State Relations

March 12, 2010

Breaking the Silence, Sine Die and a Proclamation

First, I’d like to offer my sincere appreciation for your patience while the blog sat quiet.  A combination of my short-tenure and a non-stop 60 days made for less than stellar work/blog balance this session.  It’s a task I’m determined to master moving forward.  A huge “Thank You!” to my campus-stationed colleagues for their amazing efforts in keeping the campus informed and up-to-date on major legislative items of interest.

The 2010 legislature did Sine Die Thursday night with fanfare and some unfinished business. Both the operating and capital budgets (and related revenue packages) have yet to be reconciled, which means that the UW budget and funding for student financial aid are still in limbo.

In individual operating budget proposals, both chambers restored significant funding for financial aid programs (including the State Need Grant) that were targeted for reduction or elimination in the Governor’s “no new revenue” budget proposal.  This was the UW’s number one budget priority going into the session because of the impact on UW students and families.  We are hopeful that the final budget will maintain this commitment.

On the budget reduction front, the Senate budget proposes a 6% cut to the UW and all higher education institutions which is about the same dollar amount proposed in the Governor’s original supplemental budget proposal.  The House budget cuts the UW state budget by 4%, but also transfers $18 million in building account revenue (student tuition) to the state general fund for a total cut of $30 million.  We are working hard to minimize operating cuts to the University and ensure that tuition revenue continues to benefit the students who pay it.

Yesterday, the Governor issued a Special Session Proclamation calling the legislature back at Noon on Monday, March 15th to finalize unfinished business.  Democrats anticipate the special session will probably last a little over a week, depending on how revenue talks continue.

Stay tuned.  I’ll be back with an update on the University’s legislative agenda as soon as budgets are finalized.