Daily Bread for 5.28.23: UW-Whitewater, and Most UW System Campuses, Have Projected Budget Deficits

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 79. Sunrise is 5:20 AM and sunset 8:23 PM for 15h 02m 57s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 58.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1987, an 18-year-old West German pilot, Mathias Rust, evades Soviet air defenses and lands a private plane in Red Square in Moscow.

Kimberly Wethal reports UW System projects a $60M deficit:

Most University of Wisconsin System schools are projected to have structural deficits in the millions of dollars at the end of 2023-24 without additional state support, System President Jay Rothman warned Thursday.

System officials released financial forecast numbers Thursday that show all universities except UW-Madison, UW-La Crosse and UW-Stout are projected to have tuition fund balances in the red by summer 2024 because of planned one-time expenses and structural budget deficits. Most deficits hover between just under $3 million and $6.5 million, with UW-Milwaukee being a standout with a projected $18.8 million deficit.

Projected deficits total $60.1 million across the ten schools facing shortfalls. Shoring up finances will be difficult without more investment from Legislature, though, Rothman said.

Universities are spending down their reserves to balance their budgets, which Rothman said is unsustainable in the long run. He didn’t rule out closing campuses in the future, stating the System needs to face “economic reality” while keeping closures as a last resort.

Of the ten campuses running deficits (where figures in parentheses indicate a deficit), UW-Whitewater is at a projected $4,784,006 loss:

UW-Madison: $2,858,979

UW-Milwaukee: ($18,811,666)

UW-Eau Claire: ($5,662,460)

UW-Green Bay: ($6,358,828)

UW-La Crosse: $1,123,457

UW-Oshkosh: ($5,381,929)

UW-Parkside: ($3,645,509)

UW-Platteville: ($6,520,360)

UW-River Falls: ($2,950,824)

UW-Stevens Point: ($5,618,318)

UW-Stout: $283,899

UW-Superior: ($400,107)

UW-Whitewater: ($4,784,006)

Only three of the System campus are, by Rothman’s figures, in the black.

Looking only at individual campus deficits, however, and not by programming expenses across each school within the entire System, makes it impossible to prioritize which System campus deficits (or portions thereof) are most easily remedied. Platteville, for example, is at a $6,520,360 projected loss, and Green Bay a projected $6,358,828 loss, but knowing what constitutes each loss is necessary to make an ordered series of cuts (or, as Rothman may hope, increases to some budgets).

Within the entire System, even if operating without a deficit, there may be some institutions for which deficits will continue for sound reasons, with some programs compensating for losses in others. These topline numbers are concerning, as so many schools are operating at a loss, but the toplines are also inadequate for knowledgeable remedial action. Line-by-line detail is what’s needed. 

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