Layla Merrifield, Executive Director of the District Boards Association, served as facilitator asking panelists questions and providing additional commentary from her experience working with State legislators and the Finance Committee’s budget process.
Devi Shastri is the statewide higher education reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK. She has a particular love for health and science, research and topics related to social inequality. Devi noted that the UW has taken a greater hit in revenue than the Technical Colleges because of sports and dorms. She also thinks Tech Colleges did not receive due recognition for how well they were poised to transition from in-person to on-line instruction. She states that Tech Colleges could offer more equity, inclusion, and degree completion with agreements such as the successful Higher Education Regional Alliance. The site is at herawisconsin.org
Devi also noted that 2nd chance Pell grant funding – discontinued in 1994 – will be reinstated as of 2023. Tommy Thompson is pushing for bi-partisan support to allow the UW system to open up more programs for incarcerated individuals and could be very influential with his background as former Governor and Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Devi also noted that 2nd chance Pell grant funding – discontinued in 1994 – is now reinstated. Tommy Thompson is pushing for bi-partisan support to allow the UW system to open up more programs for incarcerated individuals and could be very influential with his background as former Governor and Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Jason Stein is the Research Director of the Wisconsin Policy Forum, where he focuses on state and local government out of the group’s Madison office. Before joining the Forum, Jason worked as a Capitol reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Wisconsin State Journal. He is the author with Patrick Marley of “More than They Bargained For: Scott Walker, Unions and the Fight for Wisconsin.” Jason noted that Wisconsin ranks the 2nd lowest rate of students that transfer to a 4 year college, but ranks high with the number of those students with completions.
Jason asks us to look for ways to optimize arrangements between the UW and our colleges to minimize redundant efforts. He notes that Tech Colleges are embedded in communities and efforts like HERA ( see above ) could have influential effects using a ‘bottom-up’ vs a ‘top down’ approach.
Patrick Marley has covered state government and politics for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel since 2004 with an eye toward explaining how decisions in Madison affect residents across the state. He has written about the state’s voter ID rules, redistricting litigation and lame-duck laws that limited the power of the governor, and co-authored the book with Jason Stein mentioned above.
Patrick gave some perspective on the views of our new Senate Majority Leader Devin Lemahieu and the possible challenges he will bring to legislation and the budget process. He said new State revenue estimates coming out next week could be positive and to be on the watch for more federal ‘CARES Act’ dollars with no strings attached to land on Governor Evers' desk. Previous estimates did not include Federal Tax Dollars.
He posed the thought of Wisconsin taking Federal Medicaid money and infusing the money saved on increased Health Care costs into education and infrastructure. He also noted the $200 million requested by Evers for broadband funding should be a ‘friendly’ initiative because the rural areas of the state are predominately Republican area.
Conor Smyth reported that the Credit Transfer report was recently released.
Board Member of the Year 2021: Lori Laberee was honored as the recipient of the Board Member of the Year Award. Before receiving the award, WITC President John Will spoke of her many accomplishments and her 34 years of service to both WITC, the DBA, and the ACCT.
Board of Directors Meeting: Shelly Mondeik gave an update on the President’s Association giving Kudos to all sixteen Presidents who participate at least once a month during these unusual times, and it was noted that 80% of Instruction transitioned to on-line/virtual format since the Pandemic began. Shelly also noted that the College CFO’s are also meeting monthly to share best practices and making use of the $40 million in CARES act money distributed to tech colleges. The money has been used for COVID-19-added expenses such as extra custodial and faculty, distance learning technology, testing, and PPE costs. This information will be given to legislators along with budget requests.
Kaylen Betzig – WCTC – has retired. Dr Richard Barnhouse has been hired to replace her. Also giving notice of retirement are Bruce Barker – CVTC, Richard Nelson - Nicolet, and Lori Weyers – NTC. They will be missed. I wish every Board member had the chance to meet and get to know these Presidents as I did.
A draft of the 2021-22 DBA Budget was presented, which is basically flat excepting for a 5% increase in fringe (health) benefits and small staff bonus’ resulting in a 1% o/a increase, which will be covered using fund balance. This should have final approval at the April Spring meeting. Health benefits are purchased through FVTC which are provided through the Health Benefit Consortium. It was noted that the DBA does offer $1000 in support of any Trustee seeking an office in the ACCT organization.
Layla reported that arrangements have been made to meet with Senator Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin during next month's NLS which will be virtual. Note there are three free webinars to prep for these visits.