UW Finances: A Visual Guide

Note: the Joint Finance Committee debates UW System funding today (Update: JFC punted on UW funding; it’s unclear when they will take up those controversial votes). We over at the MacIver Institute spent a lot of time breaking down the UW budget as part of our Chart Smart series – so the busy taxpayer can keep up-to-speed on what’s going on. I’m reposting them here.

From the MacIver Institute:

These charts examine state support to the System, followed by the overall UW System budget, including federal dollars and gifts. Since the Governor’s proposed tuition freeze and tuition cut are on the docket for Tuesday, we also take a look at in-state and out-of-state tuition across public Big Ten schools. A history of program revenues offers a peek into the UW slush fund debate, sure to come up this week. Finally, we compare salaries for the average household in Wisconsin with employees of the UW System.

State Support to UW Watermark.png

Total UW System Budget Watermark.png

Big Ten Tuition Comparison Watermark.png

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Want more coverage? Head over twitter and check out @MacIverWisc for up-to-the-minute coverage of the UW budget debate and more!

Top Five Wasteful Classes in the UW System

The following report by Jessica Murphy, MacIver Institute Research Intern, first appeared at the MacIver Institute.

Here at the MacIver Institute, we’re dedicated to keeping you – the taxpayer – informed about wasteful spending at all levels of government. If you look closely, you can find questionable line items and waste in just about any arm of government. That’s why we’re skeptical of the constant drumbeat for higher taxes, bigger government, and of course, more and more spending.

Considering the UW System’s never-ending cycle of demands for more state funding, one would hope that they are responsibly spending your tax dollars before they ask for more.

The MacIver Institute decided to dive deeper into the UW system to find places where frivolous spending runs rampant and where cost savings can be found. Our first stop: course offerings in the UW System.

What we found were courses that degrade capitalism, praise Marxism and encourage a “social justice warrior” ideology. We wonder how many employers in the real world are looking to see if you took a class in how to be perpetually aggrieved or permanently pissed at the world?

Check out our list of the Top Five Wasteful Classes in the UW System to see if your school made the cut! We start with number five and make our way to the single most wasteful class in the UW System.

Read the full report here.

Education Meets Economics

Over at Right Wisconsin, Nik and I tag teamed the debate over Walker’s proposal to cut the UW System by $300 million in exchange for more autonomy and reforms to how the system is funded.

I said that the plan makes sense because conservatives support the very minimum of regulation for private institutions. As state support for UW approaches zero, it starts to look like a private system:

It makes no sense for politicians to slash funding budget after budget but still expect to retain the same level of control over the UW System; the closer UW comes to being funded entirely by tuition and program revenue, the closer it comes to being a private institution. With less taxpayer skin in the game, the legislature shouldn’t have control over factors like what contractor will re-pave a parking lot at Parkside or what Stout pays its landscaping crew.

While I just mentioned that the UW System “could rightly be criticized for its fat,” Nik went into specifics without mercy:

Giving schools less money does not have to mean providing an inferior education. It might mean doing away with things like university-sponsored drag shows, one of the more bizarre activities produced by UW-La Crosse when I attended there…Anecdotally, a college roommate of mine once received several hundred dollars to conduct economic research. His project was completed in an afternoon while using Yahoo! Finance and basic statistical modeling software.

There’s a lot of efficiency that can be found, and private for-profit universities are finding them, from distance learning to simply not offering useless degree programs. The old ivory tower model dating back centuries to medieval France don’t work anymore – it’s time to get with it, UW.

Flexibility will make it easier, and the cut will give you no choice.

EXTRA! Commentary from this week’s podcast:

The Boogeyman and the UW System

During his more than five years as SUNY’s chancellor, King was accused of putting the governor’s interests first and focusing more on meeting Pataki’s budget goals than keeping tuition low. Under King, tuition for state residents at the four-year colleges rose 28%, according to a profile in the New York Times published after his departure.


That as State University of New York chancellor he increased tuition and may have kissed the governor’s rear end should be the case against Robert L. King, one of three finalists for UW System President, but at least in liberal discourse it’s not. Instead he’s being lambasted for his ties to ALEC, experience which is insignificant in the context of a long and varied career in politics and in New York higher ed.

It’s a sign of the smallness of the arena in which The Left pushes the debate.

ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council. It’s basically a forum where conservative politicians and business interests create templates for legislation, presumably that would benefit those businesses. The fact that this blogger works for two businesses and owns one himself notwithstanding, it’s the right of citizens to gather and petition the government.

ALEC has become synonymous among The Left with KOCH, two four-letter words that not only fit nicely onto bumper stickers but are small enough to put into your pocket, easily accessible anytime one needs a dose of outrage.

Readily-recognized boogeymen have become a sort of pharmaceutical antidote to joy and contentment for The Left. The presence of Robert King in the final three and those four letters on his resume are enough to disqualify him from contention for many liberals. Fortunately they’re no longer running the Capitol.

Of real concern is that Mr. King may have demonstrated a capitulation to politics when he ran the SUNY system, bowing to pressure from the governor to stay in budget by cuts or hikes. That led to the latter, tuition hikes, a trend we’ve seen quite enough of in Wisconsin. But here the governor and Republicans who control the legislature are on record opposing tuition hikes, placing pressure on the UW System of just the opposite sort.

All three candidates are qualified. Ray Cross, the current chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extention, has been a top-tier leader in the UW System. Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) said in a statement that his appointment would “go a long way in restoring trust and communication that has been lost between the state Legislature and the UW System.”

Peter Garland has spent his higher education career in Pennsylvania. He began in the state’s Department of Education, moving on to run what they call the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. For eight years he has been executive vice president and chief operating officer of the state system.

All three are well qualified to replace outgoing Kevin Reilly, who’s leaving in the wake of a quasi-scandal in which the UW System was found to be essentially hoarding money while raising tuition for years. That students were being gouged with double-the-rate-of-inflation tuition hikes year after year while Democrats slashed funding for the UW System biennium after biennium was never a complaint of the left.

Nor should it have been, evidently, as college kids keep voting Democrat, though some, if a minority, still learn the value of cynicism and question the outrage bites they’re fed.

When companies look to replace talent at the top of the pyramid they don’t often hire from within. Instead they draw in new blood with new and different ideas, as the JS notes happened when former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Janet Napolitano were both tapped to run educational bureaucracies for their unique perspective. “If the regents decide they want an outsider, and an unconventional pick like Daniels and Napolitano for a different perspective on the job, King will be their man.”

Whether the Board of Regents hires Robert King, Ray Cross, or Peter Garland, one hopes the decision ignores boogeymanism and chooses who it thinks is the best choice to move the UW System forward.

Sunday Shots: UW Edition

What To Do With E-Cigs? UW will probably burn them!

A couple years ago at UW-La Crosse, the student government proudly enforced a measure to kick smokers at least 25 feet off the premises of any building before burning a heater, and took the full measure last spring to eliminate tobacco use on site altogether. The written policy, mercifully, excludes the series of WHEREAS clauses indicative of student government legislation, though the resolution enforcing the policy certainly might have.

The policy would technically allow for e-cigarettes, at least for now. UW-River Falls has already banned them in a comprehensive policy, effective last July.

Assuming we agree that the modern UW campus is an incubator for leftist agitprop, and assuming that e-cigarettes are healthier alternatives to smoking tobacco, that anyone would be weary of their use only solidifies the argument that liberalism thrives on control.

Controlling human behavior has been tried and modified over and over and over and over — most recently, from a certain despot forcing citizens to purchase a product that he and members of his regime were not required to (yeah, I went there). They have won every battle in the war to eradicate smoking, reminding people that tobacco use is harmful to the user, to those around them and, evoking a talking point from elementary school, that smoking certainly doesn’t make you look cool. (Which is stupid, because the Marlboro Man is a BAMF.)

I cannot fathom the arguments they will create to suggest outlawing their use. Whatever the reasons are, they will revolve on the simple point that liberals simply do not like it that people use e-cigarettes.

Daily Beast: Madison’s students are the sexiest


“If you want to graduate is four years, you have to apply yourself,” said the Most Obvious Man in the World

In a report to the Board of Regents Thursday, Mark Nook, UW System’s senior vice president for academic and student affairs, reported that students have to take 15 credits a semester to graduate in four years, not the minimum 12 to be considered full-time.

Yes, in order to graduate in the average amount of time, you have to do more than the absolute bare minimum. This is news, literally.

Today’s undergraduates really are just the worst, and I include myself in that demographic (but graduated in 3.5 years sukkas!). Their excuses are many, their woes pedestrian, their thought processes stunted. I knew a professor who blamed all of it on No Child Left Behind. Yes, it’s still Bush’s fault.

Among the recurring, annoying problems I recall anecdotally:

  • “I’m broke, but I’m going to spend a ton of many getting bombed DT nightly from Thursday through Sunday nights.”
  • “I’m so busy. Let’s get bombed DT nightly from Thursday through Sunday nights.”
  • “I haven’t had a drink since Tuesday. Let’s get bombed DT nightly from Thursday through Sunday nights and talk about how bad cigarettes are for you.”
  • “Beca’s such a whore. Let’s get bombed DT nightly from Thursday through Sunday nights. But first I have to go to my Women’s Lit class and take my birth control pills.”

The problem with students and with their professors is their existence in non-reality. Academics are liberal because they rarely function in the real world. They exist solely in the theoretical, surrounded by their own research, reading hypothetical quandaries posed by their peers, and wondering while the rest of the unwashed without 18 post-graduate degrees are having such a tough time understanding their own beneficent ideas.

I graduated with a degree in economics without taking a single class about Adam Smith, who was maybe covered in a paragraph in one of the intro to econ classes. At least I had to speak Spanish to get a minor in it.