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Chancellor's Blog: Update on state budget

| Chancellor James Schmidt

This Thursday, July 9, the UW System Board of Regents will review the proposed UW System budget allocations for 2015-17. I will be meeting with our shared governance leaders before I head to Madison to discuss the budget implications for UW-Eau Claire. I would like to outline for you what we know now about our budget and what it will mean for our campus.

I also will hold a campus Q&A this Friday, July 10, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. in Centennial Hall Room 1614, where I will share with you the outcomes of the regents meeting, discuss how we are making decisions on our budget and answer your questions.

As you know, the governor's budget proposed a $300 million biennial base budget reduction for UW System ($150 million per year). The Joint Finance Committee recommended reducing that cut by $50 million ($25 million each year of the biennium) for a total two-year reduction of $250 million. UW System has based our budget reduction on these figures.

UW-Eau Claire's reduction

The chart below outlines UW-Eau Claire's share of the budget reduction, at $7.7 million annually. When we add this to our structural deficit of $4.5 million, we are looking at a $12.2 million total reduction to our general fund. It is this number on which we are basing our budget planning.

Budget Statement Chart One-time funds

In addition, UW System has identified a one-time, $20 million fund to be distributed in 2015-16 to campuses to help manage their required reductions. UW-Eau Claire will receive $439,000 of this fund - about 2.2 percent. View a chart showing how UW-Eau Claire compares with other UW System campuses.

These proposed reductions are not yet final. Several important steps still remain to be completed:

  1. The regents must approve this allocation plan - they are expected to do so this Thursday.
  2. The Wisconsin State Assembly and Senate must pass the biennial budget and forward it to the governor.
  3. Governor Walker must sign the 2015-17 budget into law.

Budget plan progress

Nevertheless, we will continue to plan for our future, based on these targets. We have already made important decisions that address almost three-quarters of our needed reductions. Divisions have identified $4.8 million in savings, for example. Our Voluntary Separation Incentive Program has resulted in 94 individuals who elected to participate (we are still waiting on a few returns). This will provide us with important position savings of almost $5 million - $4 million to the general fund. I want to acknowledge and thank these faculty and staff who have served our university so well.

We also are moving forward to implement the recommendations of the Rapid Action Task Forces. Implementation teams are already working and more will be formed this summer. Their innovations will help provide additional budgetary savings: I have asked for reductions of 20 percent from our reorganization of student and administrative services, administrative support staff and restructuring of Facilities, in addition to senior administrator reductions of 25 percent.

I want to thank the deans, directors and chairs of our departments and units for the hard work and difficult decisions they are making to develop the recommendations that will enable us to strategically meet our budget challenge. I have asked to have all recommendations to me this month so that by early August I can share with you our plan for moving forward.

I will continue to provide you with updates throughout the summer, especially regarding the progress of implementing the transforming ideas from the Rapid Action Task Forces.

Read more Chancellor's Blog entries.