MADISON – When the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents convenes here Aug. 20, System President Katharine C. Lyall will recommend a 1999-2001 Biennial Budget which is based on securing basic tools necessary for students to succeed today, and on advancing the University and the state’s economy into the future.
“We know this will be a very tight biennium for the state, so we have limited this proposal to only items that will ensure the University can continue to give our students the opportunity they need and deserve to pursue their educations,” Lyall said. “The challenge to keep pace with change is more urgent in education than in any other sector of society. What happens to students today is what happens tomorrow in business, in government and in our civic life.
“The University of Wisconsin System is a primary engine in Wisconsin’s economy, and we must maintain it as such,” Lyall added.
In the area of “basic tools,” Lyall said there is pressing need in the operating budget to:
- Restore UW System libraries by providing $12 million in General Purpose Revenue (GPR) and fees to restore library collections, increase the number of available electronic information sources, and expand existing document delivery services to make better use of collections. UW libraries have had no increases in a decade.
- Support the use of instructional technology with $28.9 million in GPR and fees to train and employ up to 800 communications-technology students to ease the shortage of computer personnel, and institute a badly needed desktop computer replacement program for faculty and staff at all UW institutions.
- Respond to student concerns for improved academic advising by adding 35 advisors throughout the UW System to help students speed time to degree and reduce their educational costs.
Preparation for the future
Preparing students for the global economy of the 21st Century requires three important additional initiatives, Lyall said. “These actions focus on improving our capacity to serve the economic and educational needs of Wisconsin and its citizens.”
Those initiatives are:
- Improve educational quality through diversity by implementing Plan 2008, adopted by the Board of Regents in May. The UW System seeks $7 million in GPR and fees to expand pre-college programs, increase financial aid, recruit adult students, establish a UW Business Council on Diversity, and provide more funding for the Institute on Race and Ethnicity.
- Support recommendations made in May by Governor Tommy G. Thompson’s Wisconsin International Trade Council to better prepare Wisconsin students to participate in the global market. Lyall is recommending the Regents seek $11.5 million in GPR and fees to:
- Provide financial aid to enable 1,000 students to study abroad;
- Create a UW System Institute for Global Policy at UW-Milwaukee;
- Expand the Center for World Affairs and the Global Economy at UW-Madison;
- Support the international trade and training needs of Wisconsin businesses.
- Build the capacity of local governments to better serve citizens by providing greater access to University resources of faculty and research experts. The biennial budget proposal seeks $3 million in GPR “to extend expert technical assistance to local governments in such key policy areas as land use, zoning, water quality and urban renewal,” Lyall explained.
New system initiatives, along with continuing-cost items, together represent a biennial budget increase of $130.4 million in GPR and fee funding, an average annual increase of 3.4 percent.
Lyall called the proposed budget “extremely tight and very modest” compared with those being adopted by neighboring states. She said the increases are “essential to preserve quality for students and ensure the university system is able to continue its tradition of assisting people statewide through its outreach programs.”
GPR revenue – state tax dollars – comprise only about one-third of the total UW System operating budget.
If approved by the Board of Regents, the proposed UW System budget for the biennium would total $5.8 billion, excluding compensation increases.
After Regent approval, the UW budget is submitted to the Department of Administration for consideration as part of the Governor’s Executive Budget, which generally is presented to the Legislature in February. Final passage of the Executive Budget is expected prior to prior to the beginning of the new biennium on July 1, 1999.
Capital Asset Reinvestment Program
The Board of Regents also will consider a biennial capital budget proposal which focuses on a “Capital Asset Reinvestment Effort” or “CARE” Program that earmarks funds specifically for the repair, renovation and replacement of existing UW facilities.
Since 1991, the Board of Regents has directed that emphasis in the capital budget be placed on extending the useful life of existing facilities. At a recent meeting of the State Building Commission, Gov. Thompson noted: “It’s important for us to be good stewards. We’re going to rehab and renovate a lot (of buildings) … around Wisconsin.”
Although state funding to renew existing facilities has increased over the past six biennia, it has not kept pace with University needs. Emphasis in University investments has moved from new-facility emphasis in the 1980s to renewal projects in the 1990s.
Under the CARE program, the Legislature would establish the size of the fund, the Board of Regents would establish priorities for expenditures within that amount and advance its plan to the State
But under the present system, all state-agency requests for capital projects over $500,000 must be enumerated in the agency’s biennial capital budget and then advanced individually to the Building Commission. Generally, it is unknown at the outset of the planning process how much money will be available to the UW for capital projects, which inhibits efficient fiscal and academic planning, according to President Lyall.
The UW System proposal requests $185 million in GPR-supported borrowing for capital projects over the 1999-2001 biennium; another $105 million for capital projects will be funded by program revenue, gifts and grants.
[Copies of the UW System Biennial Budget proposal are available through the Office of University Relations. Contact Peter D. Fox, director of public information, at (608) 262-6448.]
Peter D. Fox