In Inside Higher Ed‘s otherwise balanced and comprehensive review of the NBP and its remains, one statement stands out as demonstrably false and ultimately self-serving: Near the end of the very long article, on the issue of continued state support for higher education, Martin says, “We have laid the groundwork for increased investment in higher education when the economy in Wisconsin begins to grow again.”
I would argue that the administration’s campaign for the NBP was premised on the notion that state support was declining and would continue to decline in the future and thus that the “new flexibilities” were necessary to stay afloat. One would guess that if she was saying that to the campus audience she must have been saying that and more to Walker, et. al. There was no discuss of alternatives including (dare we say it!) higher taxes.
Looking at the budget process this year, we can see a number of cases where protests from those who were going to be on the short end of funding forced Joint Finance to change Walker’s proposed budget: the recyling program was restored (outcry from cities) ban on phosphorus repealed (from environmentalists), $100 million restored to K-12, etc.
Compare these responses to the almost-welcoming reaction to our loss of $100 million. (Note this was the same passive response from Reilly in the last budget). Clearly, the legislators know that if a constituency will sit still for this one time they will come back and cut and cut and cut.
If anything, the passivity of the administration and the entire higher education community (and that includes US) to this and prior reductions will have laid the groundwork for continued disinvestment in higher education even if the economy begins to grow.