The University of Wisconsin System is now facing a 13 percent budget cut over the next two years, thanks to Scott Walker’s desire to balance the budget. The budget was put in crisis for some utterly known reason:
March 24, 2014– Lowering taxes for the third time in less than a year, Gov. Scott Walker signed his $541 million tax cut bill in a ceremony Monday at a farm in Cecil as he travels through central and northern Wisconsin touting it.
Speaking at Horsens Homestead Farms, about 35 miles northwest of Green Bay, Walker called it a great day for Wisconsin taxpayers and a sign of the state’s shifting financial fortunes in recent years.
“Now, instead of billion-dollar budget deficits, we have a surplus — and today that money is on its way to the workers, parents, seniors, property owners, veterans, job creators and others. You deserve to keep as much of your hard-earned money as possible — because after all, it is your money,” Walker said.
The benefit of all of this is that the cut hacks into the nearly $2 billion deficit the state is facing, thanks to all these tax cuts and financial pandering by the state. Walker’s argument is that he’s willing to give the system “flexibility” as a public authority will allow administrators to solve problems independently and avoid future wrangling like this.
April 23, 2013: Madison – Lawmakers may revoke additional authority they promised the University of Wisconsin System over pay and personnel two years ago because of a surprise disclosure that UW had $648 million in cash reserves, the leader of the state Assembly said Tuesday.
In addition to scaling back some of the flexibility they granted the system two years ago, lawmakers are considering freezing tuition and blocking a $181 million increase in state aid to the system recommended by Walker.
In fact, I remembered actually writing about it at the time:
The state has killed off much of the funding it promised for the UW System in the upcoming budget. Worse yet, it took away the freedom it promised for the system to govern itself a bit more. The freedom was promised a couple years back when THAT budget gutted the system of more than $300 million and enacted policies so scary that the Democratic senators fled the state.
So, in other words, they gave us a pile of shit to eat, but promised we’d get a breath mint two years later. At that point, they decided to take away that mint because we probably couldn’t handle the responsibility of fresh breath, now that we’re used to smelling like shit.
The universities used to be able to absorb crushing hits like this. It didn’t look pretty, but they had done a great job of managing to save for a rainy day. Or as Republicans called it 2013, stealing money from children:
Outraged legislators, still reeling from a report that found the system had squirreled away more than a quarter of its unrestricted budget, clambered for a two-year freeze on tax support and tuition – a move that would reduce by $210 million what the system had hoped for in the next two years.
Lawmakers said the findings of the report by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau on Friday were inconsistent with UW’s arguments in recent years that it needed more money in the face of state budget cuts.
“Is it incompetence or arrogance on the part of the UW System? It seems like it’s a case of both,” said Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), co-chairwoman of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee.
The state required these reserves be depleted as it also cut the budget. Now, with the budget being cut again, there are no reserves to absorb the hit. System President Ray Cross issued a memo that put a freeze on hiring, travel, pay increases and promotions. Individual campuses are calling for various levels of this as well. Rumors are swirling on various campuses about HR being consolidated at Madison, with firings in those departments to come, thanks to Cross’ “back room” statement. Staff members trade rumors of janitorial services being outsourced and department secretaries being shared across programs.
In short, it’s a clusterfuck and a panic spree all at the same time.
Walker’s response to all this? Work harder, pussies.
“They might be able to make savings just by asking faculty and staff to consider teaching one more class per semester,” Walker told reporters Wednesday in Madison. “Things like that could have a tremendous impact on making sure that we preserve an affordable education for all of our UW campuses, and at the same time we maintain a high-quality education.”
Right, because after seven years of no raises, furloughs and taking a beating in the court of public opinion, all we really needed was freedom to force more work on people. Even more, pretend for a moment that adding a course WAS the answer. Exactly how well do you think that course will be taught in balancing it against all the other work?
Of course, leave it to my wife to find the one silver lining in this mammoth cloud of despair. For a few years, she has been tangling with an overly demanding boss who has attempted to terminate her. However, with the cuts and freezes and other shit we are all dealing with, she came up with this:
“I can’t be fired now. They won’t be allowed to replace me.”