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Chancellor’s message on state budget lapses

October 27, 2011

Here is a message from Interim Chancellor David Ward regarding state budget lapses:

The university today faces a tough budget situation, one that challenges all of us to be problem solvers.

The 2011-13 biennial budget bill stipulated that if tax revenues failed to reach a critical threshold the state would require agencies to return money already allocated to them. The portion of this reduction, known as a lapse, allocated to the UW System is disproportionately high at 38 percent.

That lapses were required comes as no surprise.  However, we were quite disappointed by the disproportionate amount of the cuts required of the UW System. Its 38 percent share of the cuts comes at a time when the UW System accounts for only 7 percent of state expenditures.

The state Department of Administration notified state agencies of a $174.3 million one-time budget lapse in the 2011-13 state budget. Of that amount, UW System faces a $65 million cut. UW–Madison will be asked to absorb our traditional share of the total System cut, which translates to $25 million.

We are working with UW System and the governor’s administration to reduce the amount of the final lapse, we must be realistic and prepared to absorb significant cuts that will come our way. At a minimum, we hope to set the stage for a lower share of any future budget lapses.

This latest round of cuts comes after years of prior reductions in which we managed to protect our core mission. We realize that, with each succeeding cut, that commitment becomes increasingly difficult. The quality of education and training we can deliver to our students is affected in many ways, especially since it will be necessary to evaluate carefully all new faculty and staff appointments now being considered. As the final lapse amount is determined, we will develop and communicate a process for reviewing vacant positions.

I am hoping that we can all pull together as a campus to identify ways to manage through these latest reductions.  As responses are developed, we will keep you informed.

We understand your frustration at the fiscal situation we confront. Our campus has been asked to shoulder many budget cuts in recent years and we have risen to the challenge by shielding our core mission and being responsible stewards of our resources. We hope we can do the same now, even in these difficult economic times.

Thank you.