Tuesday, March 24, 2015

This Is What Wisconsin's 2.5% Budget Cut Looks Like

The Chronicle of Higher Education
March 24th, 2015

I recently learned that when the semester ends in May, nearly half of my immediate co-workers, maybe more, will be out of a job. Of course, adjuncts like me are often "out of a job," since our contracts go only from semester to semester. But because I’m an adjunct in the University of Wisconsin system — the one that’s made headlines thanks to Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed $300-million budget cuts over the next two years — this time it feels different.
Ask the governor, and it shouldn’t feel that different. "Our budget changes are only 2.5 percent of the total UW system operating budget," he has said. After all, what business or family couldn’t manage a 2.5-percent cut, right? But as others have pointed out, such a number is so misleading that it wouldn’t pass the sniff test in any basic course in statistics. That’s because almost all of the system’s total operating budget is nondiscretionary, meaning the cuts must come from the much smaller part of the budget that can be raised or lowered. In reality, the proposal slashes state support for the university system by 13 percent and includes a 25-percent cut in funding for "essential educational functions," such as instruction, student advising, and programming.

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