Hades has frozen over
I approve of something the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board wrote.
It’s their response to the scolding Robin Vos and assorted conservatives delivered to UW System President Kevin Reilly for about 2 hours for having a surplus of about $1 billion for the entire UW System. [Well, not REALLY $1 billion. See info at the end for clarification.]
Incidentally, the surplus was discovered by what conservatives are nicknaming “The CPA Caucus” and the brow beating was delivered at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Employment Relations.
“The University of Wisconsin System has made this state proud a lot more than it has embarrassed.
And we can’t say the same thing for the state Legislature.
So Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and his legislative colleagues should stop the pot shots at UW System over its high reserves and figure out what’s a reasonable level.
Lawmakers also should remember they failed to build up the state’s own reserves before the recession. The state’s rainy day fund sat empty for decades.
Having too much money to fall back on during tough times is better than consistently having none.
Vos opened a hearing Tuesday on the System’s $648 million in reserves by insulting top university officials seated before him.
“Continually, time after time after time, you have embarrassed the state of Wisconsin,” Vos said.
We won’t list all of the ways state lawmakers have embarrassed Wisconsin, from their secret meetings, nasty campaigns, personal scandals and criminal convictions. But surely that list is many times longer than UW’s foibles….”
And for some clarity on that “billion”…
Here’s a snippet from a Politifact piece entitled, “The UW System’s “slush fund” — $1 billion, $207 million or what?”
$1 billion — That’s the amount of “program revenue appropriations” the UW System had on hand. Let’s call it the total surplus.
It’s 25 percent higher than it was a year earlier.
The largest portion of the $1 billion — $414 million, or nearly 40 percent of the total surplus — came from tuition. Federal aid and gifts were among the other sources of cash.
$648 million — That’s the amount left if you subtract from the $1 billion money that came with strings attached — gifts, grants, federal aid and other funds. Call it the unrestricted surplus.
The fiscal bureau said it’s reasonable to make those subtractions because the UW System must spend federal aid based on federal rules. Similarly, gifts and grants – like a donation to fund a particular researcher — are typically provided for specific purposes.
$207 million — That’s what’s left if you subtract $441 million from the $648 million unrestricted surplus. The UW System says $441 million is being held in reserve for specific activities in the future. One proposal is for up to $30 million in additional student financial aid during 2013-2015.
The fiscal bureau’s report doesn’t list the future activities; and it notes that the UW System did not identify the timing for those future expenditures.
But it means only $207 million isn’t designated for some purpose. We’ll call it the leftover surplus.
CPA Posse Has Problems
Lastly, below are the self-appointed CPA detectives who are not mentioning
(they don’t care? they don’t know?)
that some of that $1 billion surplus has strings attached – like federal dollars being tied to specific research projects – quite a common scenario for a premier research facility.
At least two times in the video mention is made that complaints about cuts to the UW system back in 2011 ring hollow now that a surplus is discovered. Hmm. And what are we to think of their Spanish inquisition when it’s revealed that their discovered $1 billion surplus isn’t really a $1 billion surplus?
Now THEY look the fool.
Featured in video: Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), Rep. John Klenke (R-Green Bay), Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), Rep. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green)
To dig into things yet more, visit
“What’s the problem with UW’s left-over funds?” at Jake’s Economic TA Funhouse