Tuesday, August 9, 2016

UW System finally demanding more from state. Will it work?

With the UW System’s Board of Regents set to discuss the 2017-19 budget request that will be sent onto Governor Scott Walker’s office, this two-time Badger was heartened to see this headline story from Nico Savidge plastered atop the local Madison newspaper today.
The University of Wisconsin System is poised to ask lawmakers to lift the cap on in-state tuition and reverse years of declining support for higher education with a funding increase of $42.5 million in the next state budget.

System President Ray Cross said the “modest” two-year budget request that will go before UW’s Board of Regents next week would fund an array of initiatives, such as increased advising services, programs to help students get their degrees faster and better connections between universities and businesses.

“The future of the state depends on a commitment to create an educated workforce, an investment in human capital and the ability to identify innovative, creative ways to help our businesses and communities expand,” Cross said. “We are the vehicle to do that.”
In addition, that $42.5 million increase in funding is on top of the removal of this year’s $25 million lapse, so have that $25 million back over each of the next 2 years, and you’re talking an increase of $92.5 million. That’s nowhere near recovering the amount of state aid that has been pulled out of the UW in the Age of Fitzwalkerstan, but it’s nice to see Ray Cross step up and admit that a strong UW is a huge driver in increasing human capital for the state’s work force, and to admit that this is an investment worth putting up money for.

I also like this part, which comes up later in the story.
[New funding] would also address the issue of college affordability better than a tuition freeze, according to Cross, by bolstering efforts to reduce the time it takes to get a degree, such as dual-enrollment programs that let students earn college credit while they’re still in high school.

UW-Madison and other System institutions have reduced course offerings and class sections in response to the latest budget cuts. Cross and others have said that could mean it takes students longer to get their degrees, which increases the cost of their education even if tuition is frozen.
Posers like Scott Walker don’t seem to understand this part of the higher education funding puzzle, but you can bet Cross has gotten plenty of feedback from UW campus officials on this reality. And I’m betting all of those “no confidence” votes from faculty and staff also got his attention, which at least is making him look like a stronger advocate in public for the System that he works for.

Now, this may all be kabuki theatre, as Savidge notes that the UW asked for a $95 million increase in state funding this time 2 years ago, and instead got a $250 million budget cut from Walker and WisGOP. That was the option chosen due to budget shortfalls and decision s to give money to other right-wing priorities (cough-WEDC-cough-VOUCHER SCHOOLS), and we could well see that pattern repeat itself if we find out later this month that revenues have come up short for FY2016. I also find it ominous that Walker and his representatives continue to talk about tying any UW System increase for 2017-19 to certain performance measures.
[Walker spokesman Tom] Evenson said Walker will include some new funding for the system in the 2017-19 budget proposal he will release early next year. But it's not clear how much new money the governor will seek for UW, and the funding will come with still-unspecified strings attached.

"It will be tied to performance metrics to help ensure students are receiving the greatest value for their hard-earned money," Evenson said.

Walker has not said what criteria would be used to measure UW's performance, although Evenson highlighted a section of a column from the governor last week in which he mentioned tracking data on graduation rates, the amount of loans students take out and graduate employment in certain fields.
That sure seems to hint that Gov Dropout wants to encourage certain majors and ways of thinking over others, and you can bet that'll reflect the wants of puppetmasters like the Kochs and WMC instead of developing ideas that can improve society. I’m afraid that’s not how this “4-year higher education” thing works, Scotty- you must be thinking of the state’s technical schools.

But any aid increases and the conditions put upon them can be discussed more over the coming months as elections and the budget season occur. For now, the UW System's Administration seems to have heard the public’s complaints, and is at least making a show of trying to stand up for itself, which is an improvement over the meek “Yes, Master” act that we have seen from Cross and the Walker-stacked Board of Regents in the last 2 years. Now let’s work to? get a Legislature in power after November that will be more inclined to listen to them.


  1. "Is it all for show" is indeed the fear. Cross has been caught lying before, so, sadly, it's hard for me to be excited about this. But love the point about the 'no confidence' votes--no one will give faculty credit for it and still roll their eyes at us, but it mattered.

    1. I think it definitely got the attention of the Admins. They know they can't just roll over without getting a ton of blowback from the people who work for the organization they're supposed to represent.

      We'll see how it plays out. With GOPs getting killed in the polls in Wisconsin, now's the time to hold some feet to the fire...and change out the bums who won't do the right thing when it comes to the UW

  2. Personally I would like to see a much greater emphasis on "performance metrics" when it comes to evaluating Governor Walker's time in office and future career prospects because I believe that Wisconsin taxpayers are *not* receiving "the greatest value for their hard-earned money," or much of any value at all. I am getting really tired of this hypocrite and his slimy toads pretending that they are in any position to fairly judge the hard work and honest efforts of institutions founded for and dedicated to the improvement of this state. And that goes double for the DNR!

    1. Nothing against actual slimy toads, of course, or any natural slimy critters in general. Or pond scum, for that matter. Unlike Walker and and his greedy, corrupt cronies those things have no choice but to be as they are. Knowing better carries with it a responsibility to at least *try* to be and do better -- another metric by which to measure Walker's utter failure.

    2. I like the way you think Mad City Voter. How about some of these measures.

      1. Rate of job growth vs. "250,000 jobs in 4 years" rate

      2. Rate of job growth vs. Midwest neighbors

      3. Meeting LFB projections for state revenues.

      4. Jobs created per $$$$ handed out by WEDC.

      5. Debt to revenue ratio, both for Transportation and General Fund.

      This could be quite fun, actually.