Monday, March 13, 2006

UW Regents Oppose Revenue Amendment

You can add the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents to the list of groups opposing the revenue restrictions amendment.

This is really no surprise considering the negative effect the amendment would have on the UW System. In order to maintain current operation levels, the UW would likely need to increase tuition even more dramatically to offset decreases in state funding.

And according to one of the Regents, Tom Loftus, the bonding provision in the amendment "has the potential to cripple the university" in terms of building and maintenance issues. The answer amendment proponents have given to the bonding issue, which is that governmental units should simply call for a referendum on bonding propositions, isn't applicable to the UW System or the state technical colleges because they are not taxing entities.

A referendum would need to be called on behalf of the UW and the tech colleges by the state legislature each time a bond is needed for big costs like a new building or significant maintenance to existing infastructure. Since this would need to be a statewide referendum, it would probably run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars if not done in conjunction with another election.

It can't be stressed enough that the UW Board of Regents is a group made up of both conservatives and liberals. The same is true for organizations like the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, and many of the other groups who have come out in opposition to this amendment within the first month after it was announced.

Clearly, the revenue restrictions amendment is not a strictly partisan issue.

It's also not about taxes--which is why it's concerning the title of the Cap Times article on the Regents opposition to the amendment is "Regents: Tax Amendment Would Devastate." This makes me think the PR blitz taken up by special interest groups like Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and Americans for Prosperity is working, at least to a certain extent.

Nevertheless, the huge opposition to this amendment by numerous governmental entities, social service groups, citizen organizations, and the editorial boards of just about every major newspaper in the state will surely overwhelm any deceptive advocacy ads put out by the conservative special interests.

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