Sunday News Briefs: Gov. Walker open to extending flexibility to other UW campusesWisconsin News
-- Governor Scott Walker says he’s open to a plan that would offer campuses in the UW-System more flexibility, similar to what he's offering UW-Madison.
MADISON - Governor Scott Walker says he’s open to a plan that would offer campuses in the UW-System more flexibility, similar to what he's offering UW-Madison.
Chancellors from every UW campus in Wisconsin -- aside from UW-Madison -- have signed a letter to legislators championing what’s called The Wisconsin Idea Partnership. It’s a counter proposal to a plan in Walker’s biennial budget that would split the UW-Madison campus from the rest of the UW System to give it more flexibility with budgetary matters. But Walker says he’s willing to work with all parties to offer the same kind of flexibility offered to Madison to all campuses. Walker says having more autonomy will mean campuses can function more like businesses. He says that will result in more money going to instruction and research instead of being wasted as it has been in the past.
Chancellors of UW extension and all the UW campuses – with the exception of UW Madison’s Biddy Martin -- have signed on to the Wisconsin Idea Partnership, a reaction to Martin’s New Badger Partnership which spins off the Madison campus. UW Parkside chancellor Debbie Ford doesn’t think that’s a good idea. “Creating another system of governance for higher education at a time dwindling resources is going to lead to greater competition,” said Ford. “I believe strongly in a unified system of higher education, and that’s what we’ve had for over 40 years.” The proposal from the system chancellors gives each campus greater flexibility, something Martin seeks for the Madison campus. The difference is, this does not split the flagship Madison campus off from the rest of the system. And while Governor Scott Walker has included the Badger partnership in this two year state budget, UW River Falls chancellor Dean Van Gallen believes Walker may be willing to take a look at their plan. In addition to greater autonomy for each campus, the Wisconsin Idea Partnership would loosen the UW Board of Regents authority to set tuition.
Starting next school year, Marquette University will offer domestic partner benefits to its employees. The move comes about a year after the Catholic, Jesuit university rescinded a job offer to a lesbian professor from Seattle. At the time, school officials said the decision on Jodi O'Brien had nothing to do with her sexual orientation, but the move brought on a loud debate over the issue. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports the medical, dental and vision benefits offered to married couples and their dependents will be extended to domestic partners who are registered starting in 2012. The get the benefits the same-gender couples have to share a residence and declare their partnership by registering with the clerk in the county where they reside.
A Wisconsin-based company reports the percentage of employers offering health insurance to their workers was steady last year, but those making contributions to 401-K plans was down. The Management Association of Pewaukee released the figures last week. More than 23 hundred companies were surveyed last year. Researchers found 78 percent offered single-coverage health plans and more than 69 percent offered family coverage. The number of companies offering guaranteed 401-K contributions dropped from 58-point-6 percent to a little under 49 percent.
After two years of legal battles, a court of appeals has upheld the sick pay law in place in Milwaukee. The decision came last week. The city ordinance requires big companies to offer up to nine days of sick leave each year, while smaller companies will have to offer five days. Those fighting against the ordinance say it will restrict economic development in Wisconsin's largest cities, making companies not want to locate there. The court ruling means the Milwaukee sick pay law has been reinstated.
A volunteer group that feeds the homeless says it has been told it can resume its weekly program at the state Capitol a week from today. Capitol police barred the Savory Sunday group from the statehouse during the protests over Governor Walker's budget plan, then wouldn't allow them to shelter themselves under the portico of the Capitol last week, despite cold and rainy conditions. Savory Sunday has been serving meals to mostly homeless people at the Capitol for years. Though the group has been cleared to return, it has been told that the agreement is "week-to-week."