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Capitol Capsules

October 19, 1999

Capitol Capsules

Pension bill passes, awaits governor’s signoff
The Assembly and Senate have passed a pension bill (AB 495) that would:

  • Increase the percentage multiplier for service performed before Jan. 1, 2000 to 1.765 percent for most employees. The multiplier for service performed after January 1, 2000, will return to the current 1.6 percent.
  • Allow those who are participating employees in the Wisconsin Retirement System on Jan. 1, 2001, to participate in a variable annuity program. Currently, those who began their state service after Jan. 1, 1982, cannot participate in a variable annuity program.
  • Remove the existing 5 percent interest- rate cap on employee-required contribution accumulations for persons who are participating employees in the WRS when the bill is signed into law.
  • Increase the maximum amount of an initial annuity to 70 percent of a person’s final earnings, if the person is a participant in the WRS when the bill is signed into law. Currently the maximum is 65 percent.
  • Increase the death benefit for an employee who has not reached age 55 to an amount equal to the sum of the employee additional contribution and twice the employee required contribution.
  • Eliminate the requirement that a beneficiary of the death benefit be a dependent; instead the beneficiary must be a natural person or a trust in which a natural person has beneficial interest.

The bill awaits the governor’s review.

Brain drain?
The Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee plans to meet at 10 a.m. today, Oct. 20, at Marquette University in Milwaukee to take invited testimony regarding the issue of “brain drain” of state talent. Representatives of UW System, private colleges, technical colleges and private sector officials have been invited to testify on problems associated with “brain drain” and possible solutions.

Tuition increases slow
A national College Board survey indicates that tuition and fees for the 1999-2000 academic year increased by an average of less than 5 percent over last year, the lowest rate of increase for the past four years.

The average increase was 3.4 percent for four-year public institutions, from $3,247 to $3,356. At $3,406, tuition and fees at UW–Madison for 1999-2000 are just slightly above this average. However, compared to its peers (other premier research institutions), UW–Madison’s tuition and fees remain $906 less than its peer group mid-point of $4,312.

Legislation introduced
Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, has introduced legislation (AB 500) that would prohibit domestic partner insurance benefits for state employees. The measure would deny benefits to any adult residing with a state employee who is not related to the employee by blood, marriage or adoption. The bill, which is similar to a budget amendment that had been adopted by Assembly Republicans but not included in the final budget adopted by the Legislature, has been referred to the Committee on Family Law.

For more information
The university’s state relations staff works to raise awareness of the value and impact of UW–Madison on Wisconsin and improve the relationship between the university and state government leaders. For information, visit: