From my email inbox comes this excellent resource from regular reader lufthase, who put together a spreadsheet pertaining to funding for the UW System in the context of Gov. Walker’s unprecedented funding cuts to the UW System.

The recent discussion surrounding Walker’s cuts to the UW System budget spurred me to make a little spreadsheet over the weekend to try and put it in context with UW funding under Doyle. It was just going to be for my own edification, but then my OCD kicked in and I found myself combing through Redbooks and ultimately compiling a comprehensive history of UW System funding, spending, and tuition adjusted for inflation going back to 1994-95.

I think others may find this useful/interesting as we move forward in discussing Walker’s budget, so I was wondering if you could perhaps do a post to share it. (I don’t have my own blog.)

It’s accessible in GoogleDocs here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1lQsTB8XI3SNiD0Kih-5cj8x5_NnCGRwKy00uH53KIZE/edit?usp=sharing

I’d like to encourage others to copy it, do their own analysis, make their own charts, draw conclusions, and share their thoughts. (You know, like crowd-sourcing.) I included notes on my methodology, and citations for the data I used, all of which came from either UW System or Legislative Fiscal Bureau websites.

One of the more interesting things I found was that in 2010-11 all Federal Direct Loans started to be passed through the UW System budget. This resulted in an additional ~$700 million/yr being added to the System budget, giving the appearance of a large increase in both funding and spending, when it was really just a change in how this money was counted. (So, while the 2014-15 total UW System budget is ~$6.1B, it must be adjusted to ~$5.4B if we’re going to make meaningful comparisons with the Doyle years.) In my spreadsheet I back these Direct Loan dollars out of the budget so it is more of an apples-to-apples comparison with earlier years.

It’s also interesting to note that debt service has gone from a little under 3% of the total system budget under Doyle to over 4.5% now under Governor Fiscally Responsible.

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One Response to The UW System funding cuts: a spreadsheet

  1. lufthase says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Zach! Hope others find it useful.

    One important point that’s not really captured in the spreadsheet are all the statutory and contractual strings attached to UW System funding beyond the Direct Loans.

    While the 2014-15 total System budget is nominally $6.1B (and $5.4B after backing out Direct Loans), the Board of Regents only has discretion on how to spend about $2.3B (which is where nearly all of the $ spent on instruction comes from).

    See pg 11 of this PDF for a good visualization of this:
    https://www.wisconsin.edu/budget-planning/download/budget_documents/biennial_budget_documents/2015-17%20Biennial%20Budget.pdf

    Walker’s $150M cut will necessarily have to come out of this $2.3B, making it a 6.6% cut to the UW General Program Operations Budget.

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