Faculty Senate to vote on a resolution on “Smart Furloughs”.

At their February 1 meeting, the Faculty Senate will vote on a resolution brought by the Department of Physics.  The resolution voices strong support for the “Smart Furlough Bill” (AB 551) introduced by Rep. Kelda Helen Roys.   For those not already familiar with it, the Badger Herald reported on the bill in early November, and PROFS has expressed strong support (we were unable to find any coverage of the bill by the Wisconsin State Journal or the Capital Times).

We encourage S&W readers to become familiar with the “Smart Furlough Bill” and to post comments here.   In addition, those on the faculty should communicate their views on the resolution to their Faculty Senator(s).

The full text of the resolution is reproduced here:

RESOLUTION FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS
REGARDING FURLOUGHS OF NON-STATE-FUNDED EMPLOYEES

Background

(1) Research programs at UW-Madison cover a wide range of fundamental and applied problems including energy-environmental challenges, national security concerns, and health issues facing our country and human society in general. For example, UW-Madison researchers are studying the H1N1 virus which poses a near-term threat of a deadly pandemic. Federal taxpayers have a right to expect a timely best effort from funded UW-Madison research teams.

(2) Furloughs of research personnel violate the spirit of more than a thousand Federal grants and contracts providing hundreds of millions of dollars of research funding. Research staff, faculty, and especially principal investigators committed to a best effort when these funds were accepted by UW-Madison. Furthermore, research funding is very competitive. Research funding decisions are based in part on the past performance of researchers.

(3) The University of California, in a state with worse budget problems than Wisconsin, exempted federally funded university employees from furloughs.

(4) Wisconsin state taxpayers will need to make up the lost revenue from income taxes that will not be collected due to furloughs of federally funded employees. This makes little sense in a time of economic distress.

(5) The Smart Furlough Bill proposed by Rep. Kelda Helen Roys would exempt from furloughs those positions (or portions thereof) that are not funded by state dollars.

Resolution

WHEREAS furloughs of federally funded university employees exacerbate the state budget problems through a reduction in state income tax revenue; and
WHEREAS furloughs of federally funded university employees unnecessarily harm the university’s research and service missions and damage the university’s reputation;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Faculty Senate strongly supports the Smart Furlough Bill currently pending in the Wisconsin legislature.

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