University of Wisconsin System employees would receive 2% and 2.5% pay increases over the next two fiscal years under a plan officials released Monday, Dec. 7, but the annual raises require legislative approval and COVID-19 complicates the state budget picture.
The two-year, $94.7 million pay-raise plan would affect nearly all of the System's 39,000 employees. The amount would come on top of a projected $373 million deficit in the state general fund's projected revenues and costs without accounting for new spending, such as new employee raises.
The state typically funds 70% of the cost of UW System pay increases, with campuses covering the rest through tuition revenue. But the System is again asking for the state to fully fund its pay plan because a freeze on in-state, undergraduate tuition that has been in place since 2013 is expected to continue over the next two years.
System employees received a 2% raise in the fiscal year ending June 30. They also received essentially a 4% raise in the 2019 fiscal year. But in the three years before last, employees received no base wage increases.
System officials note their plan would not close the gap between their salaries and what peer institutions offer. At UW-Madison, for example, officials calculated the 10-year average in compensation increases and found UW faculty received a 1.7% increase and UW staff received a 1% bump. That fell below the 3% faculty increases and 2% staff increases at peer institutions.
"Unfortunately, due to these gaps, UW-Madison continues to be the target for outside institutions trying to recruit our talented faculty and staff," university officials wrote in a plan submitted to the UW Board of Regents.
The System's annual faculty turnover report, also released Monday, shows about 7% of faculty, or 376 professors, departed in the 2019-20 academic year — a figure fairly consistent with previous years and the majority of which were retirements. Just 21 were cited as "salary-related job changes."
The Regents will consider the employee compensation plan at their Thursday meeting. If the board approves, the plan then heads to the Capitol for approval.
Representatives for Gov. Tony Evers, incoming Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, did not respond Monday to requests for comment on the plan.
Also on Thursday, the board will consider approving a 1.8% pay increase to take effect in January 2021 for the couple hundred unionized tradespeople who tend to campus facilities. The anti-union 2011 Act 10 law limits how much public-sector unions can negotiate in base wage increases to the rate of inflation and eliminated their ability to negotiate multi-year agreements.
The changes have resulted in long, drawn-out negotiations that not only require approval from the Regents, but also from a legislative committee, the Assembly, Senate and governor. It has also meant union members likely received smaller raises in recent years compared with non-union employees.
Among other items the Regents will consider, UW-Madison is asking to increase tuition for several graduate and professional programs. In many cases, the increases amount to inflation adjustments, but others are to bring tuition rates closer to what peer schools charge.
According to materials submitted to the Regents, the tuition increases include:
—Full-time master's programs in the School of Business: $1,000 in 2022 and $1,900 in 2023
—Law School: $2,600 in 2022 and $2,800 in 2023
—Doctor of Medicine: 1.1% in 2022 and 2.9% in 2023
—Health professional programs: 1.1% in 2022 and 2.9% in 2023
—Doctor of Veterinary Medicine: 2.5% in both 2022 and 2023
—Doctor of nursing: $1,000 for residents and $500 for non-residents in both years
Altogether, the increases are estimated to raise about $5.5 million in revenue that schools said would go toward hiring more faculty, increasing scholarship aid, expanding capacity at clinical training sites and supporting other program initiatives.
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