Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Simple question on Scotty's UW tuition pose- WHERE'S THE MONEY?

Because 4 years of frozen tuition and falling UW rankings wasn't enough. Now Gov Walker (in full "throw shit against the wall for my re-election campaign and hope the rubes fall for it" mode) says this at today's State of the State address?

Neumann later said a Walker spokesman claimed any alleged tuition cut will be made possible by increasing state funding. On the surface, that doesn't seem so bad, although it still doesn't even start to replace the hundreds of millions in disinvestment in the UW System that has happened in the 6 years of this Reign of Error.

But there's one problem with that. WHERE'S THE MONEY GONNA COME FROM? And Neumann should know that as well as anyone, because GOP Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald was just on Neumann's show 2 days ago floating a scheme to pull $720 million OUT of the General Fund (meaning less money is available to give to the UW) and using it to pay for roads.

As I pointed out yesterday, if that scheme were to come to pass, Wisconsin would be facing a $1.5 billion budget DEFICIT, given the state's disappointing revenues and rising needs in Medicaid and K-12 spending. The UW System only was asking for an increase of $42.5 million in their 2-year budget request, which means there's not much room to reduce that requested boost, and get a "savings" as a result.

But let's assume Walker chooses to use all of that $42.5 million to go to tuition relief (instead of using it to, you know, pay talent or improve services after years of budget and take-home pay cuts). Quick math indicates an in-state tuition cut of $42.5 million would be around $150 a student a year. I suppose it doesn't suck, but it's not really going to be anything that's going to jump-start the economy. And if UW's competitiveness and respect continues to slip, the earning potential for UW grads will be hurt by a lot more than $150....more like $15,000 a year for 40 years.

And since there's no change in the amount of money that's going to the UW vs the budget request, it brings us back to my original question. WHERE'S THE MONEY GOING TO COME FROM? This tells me that this 2017-19 budget will reach new depths in Walker cynicism. Given the lousy revenue picture, there is no way that Walker will be able to come close to avoiding higher taxes and fees while pulling off gimmicks like a tuition cut without the following occurring:

1. "Magic asterisks" like an inflated estimate of savings on a new employee health insurance plan for 2018. This was done by Walker all the time in Milwaukee County, and will be done in the hope that the inevitable budget deficit from these "magic asterisks" falling short doesn't become apparent until after the 2018 election (good luck on that, guys!).

2. Some mysterious new revenue source that we haven't found out about yet. This could either be in the form of a bailout from Trump and the GOP Congress through higher Federal spending (stop laughing!) or through a massive increase of land sales and other state assets (uh oh...).

We need to be prepared to lower the boom and call BULLSHIT on all of this when it gets revealed. Our lagging job growth and chronic deficits show that Walkerism ain't working, and doubling down on the same talking point-based "policy" REALLY isn't going to work. Don't fall for the shell games and GOPper-ganda lies that are sure to be part of the next 5 months of budget deliberations.


  1. Don't forget that $50M of the $250M cut to UW in the last budget was a lapse. So System is counting on getting a $25M/year starting July 1. Some (all?) of that could be eaten up by this tuition cut.

  2. Matt- Wow, that's very good, since the $25 mil lapse is built back into the 2017-18 base.

    For you non-budget geeks out there, this means Walker could claim "I raised UW funding" by keeping it at that base level, but not giving the $42.5 mil that the UW requested. And it would totally be in line with how those sleazebuckets would spin it

  3. Walker's already saying that the tuition cut will be partially funded by the $42.5 million request -- and that money UW gets will be performance-based. Two questions: 1. Does "performance-based" also apply to the tuition cut money? and 2. Does that mean no $$ until "performance" achieved? How clever is that?