Monday, April 29, 2013

ZOMG! The University of Wisconsin System Is Working!

It's one of those news stories that leaves one just shaking their head.

Click to embiggen
It was reported that the University of Wisconsin system had a surplus of one billion dollars. But then when one takes out the amount of money that has already been earmarked for specific projects, that total fell to $648 million.  Of that money, over $400 million has also been committed, leaving the actual "surplus" to be $207 million.

This greatly reduced number, which has been deemed normal by an independent accounting expert, was still enough to send the usual suspects into a tizzy and an undie bundling apoplexy:
State Representative Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), Chairman of the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee, is calling for the firing of President Reilly in response to the discovery of the surplus. Nass calls the newly-discovered money a “betrayal of public trust.”Nass calls Reilly a “fraud,” saying, “At the same time the legislature is trying to hold down tuition, he’s traveling around the state bashing legislators about how cuts to the UW System will destroy it. He used very harsh language while doing that. At the same time, he’s sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars in tuition money taken from students.”

Nass says he will also introduce a budget amendment to freeze resident undergraduate tuition for four years.Fellow Republican Glenn Grothman, a state Senator from West Bend, won’t go as far as calling for Reilly’s “head,” but says he’s outraged the University President has been pushing for a tuition hike.Governor Scott Walker says in a statement, having a sizable surplus is disturbing, “especially at a time when students, families, and lawmakers have continually heard from the UW System about the need for more money to offset ‘devastating cuts’.” Walker’s budget allows for $181 million in funding for the colleges, but now some Republicans question whether that should happen. Reilly had said that $153 million of that amount is already committed for things like previously-approved UW construction and renovation projects, fringe benefit increases, as well as leases and utility costs.

GOP leaders in the state legislature are “outraged” with what they call the “mishandling of taxpayer dollars and the incompetence shown by university system administration.” In a press release Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), Joint Finance Co-Chairs Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) and Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford), say: “We want to assure the university students and their parents that, at a minimum, this budget will include a two-year tuition freeze.”The Republican leaders say, “It is not only unfair to the students and their parents who keep getting hit with tuition hikes; it’s unfair to the taxpayers of Wisconsin.”
Their selective outrage is rather ironic when one considers that they were knocking their shoulders out of joint trying to slap themselves on the back when they had a surplus (which really isn't a surplus considering the debt also went up).

The fact that the UW System even broke even, much less has a surplus shows that the administrators were doing their jobs.

Given how badly the Republicans slashed their finances in the first budget, and given how the axemen of austerity are running amok like whirling dervishes during this budget session, it doesn't take a great leap of logic to expect that the UW system was going to receive another whack or three to their funding.

When you know bad times are a-coming, it only makes sense to squirrel away as much as you can to ease the pain as long as possible.  Ask any worker that has been affected directly or indirectly by Act 10.

But the Republicans really need to shut their hypocritical pie holes until they can explain why WEDC still exists even though they lost track of tens of millions of dollars.  Then they can also explain what happened to the hundreds of millions of dollars that were supposed to go to job creation yet created no jobs.

All the Republican's selective outrage is about is to give them an excuse to raid the funding of the university system and divert it to their wealthy campaign contributors.  After all, the road builders, ALEC and the Kochs didn't spend all that money on their elections for their good looks.

And speaking of raids, is anyone paying attention to the pension system and retirees benefits.  They're getting ready to raid those too, y'know.


  1. Right wingers know that universities breed educated voters, thus spreading knowledge that is counter to Republican interests. Educated voters often understand human reproductive biology and environmental sciences, whose facts are a direct threat against Republican agendas. Educated voters become proficient in arithmetic empowering analysis of why surplus funds are saved for future plans.

    State Representative Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) recognizes that the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater has a reputation to protect as a Party School. The University leadership is using money to upgrade its academics. This will destroy its identity and turn it into another Institution producing educated voters.

    Why is this so hard to understand, Capper?

  2. As far as retirement benefits for public workers, I think its only just that public workers are moved to the exchanges just like everyone else will be.