Sunday, July 9, 2017

ALEC/GOP still seems fine with UW being underfunded, mediocre

Late last week, the UW Board of Regents signed off on the budget for the 2017-18 school year, and you can take a look at the full $6.22 billion document right here. As Nico Savage of the Wisconsin State Journal notes, the UW budget is based on what was approved by the Joint Finance Committee last month, which includes a restoration of $25 million that was a required lapse of expenses for the 2016-17 Fiscal Year. Yes, I know that the state budget is still held up, but there aren't many changes in state funding that are happening to the System anyway, which isn't a good thing since it comes after a $250 million cut in state aid in the prior budget. (I referenced this back in May).

In fact, 70% of the overall budget increase of $92 million is at UW-Madison, mostly due to increased enrollment and higher tuition for out-of-state and graduate students, along with more money from Bucky's self-supporting entities. In contrast, 3 4-year campuses (Milwaukee, Stevens Point and Superior) will have less total funding funding in 2017-18 than they had this year, and UW Colleges and Extension are also looking at cuts in total money available. This partly helps explain why the UW Board of Regents chose to reallocate more money to the non-flagship schools, and away from Madison.
Under the operating budget proposal released Monday, UW officials would not distribute the $25 million increase using the enrollment-based formula they typically use to divide money among institutions — a plan that directs the lion’s share of funding to UW-Madison.

Instead, they would use a different formula that shrinks UW-Madison’s allocation of the new money by more than two-thirds: Whereas the campus would have received an additional $9.4 million under the prior formula, it stands to receive $2.9 million.

Other System campuses would in turn get bigger shares of the state money — UW-Milwaukee would be the biggest beneficiary, receiving an additional $1.7 million.

UW-Whitewater would get an extra $1 million, while other System institutions would receive between $205,300 and $423,600 in additional funding.
As a damn proud Badger, you may expect me to be angry about this, but I don’t have much of a problem with this decision. The non-Madison campuses rely on state aid and tuition more than Madison does, because Madison has much more funding through research and its larger donor base.

GPR/Tuition as % of total budget
Madison 29.6%
Rest of UW System 49.6%

But as UW Professor Don Moynihan brings up, you’d think a “pro-business" State Legislature would then allow Madison to raise more of its own revenues through tuition to make up the difference and continue its ability to invest.

Of course, that's not going to happen under the state budget as it stands, because the GOP talking point of "low cost" is more important to them than having UW-Madison (and the state as a whole) maintain its excellence and attract talent. Which means Madison will likely continue to lag when it comes to paying for their staff when compared to their peers, a problem when you consider that Madison had to pay $23 million in additional compensation and supplies in 2015-16 just to hold on to who they had.

The Board of Regents item that did piss me off came at the meeting on Friday, where new Walker-appointed UW System President John Behling shot his right-wing mouth off. Not only did Behling say that the tiny increase in state aid in this budget proved that giving in to WisGOP by eradicting tenure and UW self-governance was "the right move", but he also had this brilliant idea.

Current and former UW professors quickly called out the absurdity behind Behling's "run UW like a corporation producing widgets" mentality.

But John Behling is reflecting the vision that the ALEC/GOP crew wants from higher education. They don't want universities to produce independent research that benefits the public good or to produce well-rounded, citizens that can recognize things past their own noses and advance our society. They want higher education to be nothing more than subsidized help that produces workers for the corporations they own. This seems doubly true when the ALEC/GOP LEgislature and Walker cronies on the Board of Regents comes to dealing with the over-ejukayted liberals in Madison (aka- the only place in Wisconsin that's actually attracting talent and having big-time economic growth).

George Carlin had it cornered 20+ years ago, and it's worse today.


  1. On a related vein,
    here's John Nichols in today's Cap Times
    saying how today's Republicans disrespect how Tommy Thompson viewed the UW 20 year ago. Nichols says Tommy viewed the UW as a legitimate partner in government that can help the Legislature and the Governor improve policy and solve problems.

    I'm no Tommy fan, but what I won't deny is that the guy was a Badger all the way, and seemed to give a fuck about results and reality, unlike what you see today at the Capitol.

    "Tommy Thompson won the respect of Wisconsinites of all partisanships and ideologies by recognizing that he could learn from others, compromise with others and address daunting health care, transportation and social issues. He was a politician. But at his best (and Thompson was often at his best), the governor rejected hack politics in favor of common sense and the common good. The way to honor this man is with an academically rigorous and intellectually adventurous center for the study of politics and policy in Wisconsin. "

    100% correct. Instead, the ALEC-GOPs want it to be the Thompson Center of Alternative Facts.

  2. The politics of "now" has to require attention to the past. John Nichols is great, but we need to battle the GOP onslaught.

    I have always questioned the Tommy approach (he's an ALEC disciple, a longtime member). If you want to talk about gateway drugs, Tommy is your focus.

    I like George Carlin, explaining you're not part of the club, but Jeez, that's not current news.

    Better off reading Nancy MacLean's "Democracy in Chains," that explains our current political dilemmma, a political framework that justifies all the mindgames "they," meaning conservatives, push.