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Statement from Chancellor Biddy Martin on state budget impacts

May 14, 2009

Wisconsin’s budget crisis has deepened and our campus community must now share in more of the sacrifices required by a recessionary economy and the state’s declining tax revenue.

These sacrifices will be both institutional and personal, affecting our employees and their families.

Gov. Jim Doyle has announced more cuts in the state budget to compensate for an additional $1.6 billion budget shortfall. He has said that deeper cuts to state spending will reach at least 5 percent.

The governor has also announced that non-represented state employees (including university faculty and staff) will forgo the pay increases that were to be effective in June.

In addition, all state employees will be expected to take off the equivalent of eight days without pay during each of the next two fiscal years.

The state will also ask represented employees to reopen contract negotiations to reduce pay by two percent. If that cannot be achieved, the governor said an estimated 400 represented employees would have to be laid off statewide.

At this point, we do not have more precise information about how university employees will be affected. We have assembled a team to plan for the implementation of furloughs and we are working closely with state officials to meet their requirements. Our goal is to apply the furlough plan in a way that is fair, consistent and minimally disruptive to our university’s operations.

Clearly, many of you will have questions about how these measures will affect you and your families. This web site is intended to provide detailed information and updates about the furlough plan and the entire state budget and its impact at UW–Madison. As we compile more detailed information we will present it here, and we invite you to ask questions as they arise.

On a personal note, I deeply appreciate the thoughtful professionalism with which the campus community has responded to the state’s current fiscal challenge and the personal sacrifice it requires.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is not alone in these challenging economic times. Universities across the nation — public and private — are confronted with budget cuts, furloughs, layoffs and endowments battered by the turmoil on Wall Street.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, at least 30 states have taken action at public universities that resulted in cuts in faculty and staff and/or tuition increases ranging up to 15 percent. For example, Arizona State University eliminated 550 staff positions and 200 faculty associate positions, while imposing employee furloughs of 10 to 15 days, consolidating schools and departments, and increasing tuition by 9.5 percent. Private schools, including Harvard and Stanford, have also felt the pinch because of the effects of a struggling economy on their endowments.

At UW–Madison, I continue to believe that these tough economic times also hold the opportunity to help lead Wisconsin’s economy and families into more prosperous times, and to put the institution in a position to thrive as the economy begins to recover.

Together, we continue to educate the young people capable of driving a knowledge-based economy and help Wisconsin compete in a global marketplace.

Biddy Martin,