E-mail message to the Campus
REMARKS AND ESSAYS:
In my message today, I will attempt to explain our early understanding of the implications of the proposed budget for public higher education in Wisconsin. And, specifically, for UWGB. While my message is long, the budget is complicated, and I have decided to err on the side of more rather than less explanation.
This I will preface with my usual caveats. We are a long way from knowing what the final budget will be. Indeed, we are only beginning to understand and clarify the Governor's proposal. And, over many years we have learned that, when things look good, they never turn out quite that well, and when thinks look bleak, they never turn out quite that badly.
This morning, it looks to me a bit like the proverbial "glass part full; glass part empty" story. I will begin with the "glass part full" side of the story.
On the positive side, the budget has these important features (all budget numbers are annual, ongoing base budget adjustments for the UW System as a whole):
Put more simply, the positives I noted earlier (the largest "addition" by far simply being what it costs to continue current services) are being funded from three sources (in order of importance): tuition, internal reallocation, and GPR.
Before trying to bring these numbers back down to UWGB's level, a word on compensation. The Governor has expressed his understanding of the importance of adequate and "catch up" salary adjustments. He has chosen, at this time, to not fund the "catch up" provision that the Regents included in their request and to defer determination of salary increases to the "normal" processes for determining such matters, those processes typically occurring in April/May.
The Governor did include an amount for a "faculty in high demand" retention fund. This was not part of the System request. We do not know if it is targeted for specific campuses nor how it is to be used. Were it evenly distributed (and we are not making that assumption), our "normal share" would be $60,000.
Now, what do all these numbers mean for us? All we have at this stage are System-level numbers. Nevertheless, historically, UWGB's share of whatever - cut, addition, rescission, shortfall - has been a usually consistent 2.4% of the System total.
On the addition to instruction, our share of the 125 new faculty positions being authorized by the Governor would be three faculty. Funding for these additions would not be available until the second year of the biennium. While not a large number of additions in the face of the erosion we have seen, that erosion took place over a long period of time, and the addition is a welcome turnaround in that trend.
What do we "pay"?
First a word on "savings." We are still trying to understand this. We currently think it boils down to this, though: UWGB will have to find and return, in the first year, one-time savings of $480,000 and make an additional permanent base budget reduction of $120,000.
In addition to this cut, our share of the "reallocation" of non-instructional positions is, we currently estimate, a permanent $360,000 reduction in year one and an additional permanent cut of $120,000 in year two for an ongoing permanent base budget reduction of $480,000.
There is a difference between the two biennia. The cuts this time are more specifically focused.
Cuts must come from state funds: tax support plus tuition. We must, as required by the budget proposal, maintain access and protect instruction. When we subtract salaries (or portions of salaries) actually committed to delivering classroom instruction, that leaves about $15 million in UWGB's budget. It is that $15 million rather than our whole budget that must be reduced. It is essentially everything we do besides actual classroom teaching and self-supporting activities.
Using that base and for those who prefer to think in percentage terms, here are what we currently understand to be our challenges:
Overall, we project that we will leave the next biennium with our instructional budget permanently increased by 2% and the non-instructional portion of our budget permanently reduced by 4%. Given that, for the biennium we now in, we concentrated all ongoing budget reductions in these same areas, that means that the non-instructional areas will have had, over two biennia, a 10% reduction in ongoing base budgets.
Is the glass part full or part empty? Depends upon what glass we are talking about.
The "full part" does not come until the second year while the "empty" part is largely "front loaded" in the first year. Therefore, it is that latter matter to which we must now immediately turn, leaving the additions (the three faculty) to normal budget and planning processes for the second year of the biennium.
The Governor's expectations for non-instructional staff reductions and for efficiency savings are extraordinarily sobering. While we will argue the case, realistically, we should not expect a legislative hue and cry to restore funding for non-instructional budgets (what they will call "administration") or to cover "savings" mandated even if unrealizable. So:
As I noted, there is some good news in the Governor's budget proposal. We would be kidding ourselves, though, if we thought that other parts of the proposal will not hurt the quality of the academic, student, and other support services that contribute to our students' entire educational experience and that critically support those who provide classroom instruction.
One promise, as always: we will share whatever we know with you, doing so in part by using a new set of web pages focused upon the upcoming budget. For those wishing more detail, an excellent summary of what System currently understands to be in (and to not be in) the Governor's budget proposal can be found on that page along with a link to the Governor's full proposal for the UW.
Please know that your continuing dedication to our critical mission is deeply appreciated. It is a mission I hear validated every day as I travel throughout the community, and it is in that validation that we will find brighter futures for Green Bay's University of Wisconsin.
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