UW System administrators expressed concern for growth and funding for UW institutions and faculty after Wisconsin legislators passed the 2013-15 biennial budget Wednesday.

The biennial budget passed by the Joint Finance Committee only contains an increase of $52.5 million in General Purpose Revenue funding, compared to the $181.3 million increase in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal.
The proposed budget would leave $202.6 million in unfunded liabilities, according to David Miller, the associate vice president of capital planning and budget for the UW Systems Board of Regents. This could lead to future cuts in order to cover those losses, especially in light of the recent tuition freeze, Miller said. 

Since the $52.5 million increase would take place over a biennial period instead of each year, Miller said there would be no money for new initiatives. 

“You can’t really figure out a way to do everything without cutting something,” Miller said. 

The JFC budget also removed language allowing the Board of Regents to have the final say on compensation for UW System employees as well as a new UW personnel system, which effectively postponed both of the measures. In addition to these measures, the budget would also require the Board to report how tuition dollars are spent at each institution, as well as report all amounts for additional student fees, and their cost increases if applicable.

UW System President Kevin Reilly expressed concern this measure could hurt faculty, who are currently paid 18 percent less than staff at peer universities. The postponement of the compensation measure and the personnel system will prevent the board from creating a pay plan to raise the salary of faculty, he said. 

Reilly said the quality of the education offered in the UW system institutions could also be affected if the board is not allowed to make up for the compensation gap and adequately decide payment for faculty. 

“This is a growing threat to the health, to the life and to the vitality of the university system,” Reilly said.