UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank says she is “really, deeply worried” about funding for the university’s building projects.
“It is a budget year this coming year, but nobody’s doing much of anything until the election is over,” Blank said yesterday at a Wisconsin Technology Council luncheon in Madison. “We’ll see who it is we’re negotiating with and for what.”
She’s concerned because the state has funded “very, very little” in the last two bienniums compared to historical levels. Projects funded by UW-Madison that require several million dollars or more need the approval of the entire state Legislature and the governor.
That means these projects end up as “political footballs,” which she believes are “incredibly damaging” to the university.
“The constraints I have on capital projects are unprecedented compared to any of my peers… and almost unworkable at this point in time,” she said.
Blank adds that “we are the only university, the only university system in the country that doesn’t have a Moody’s bond rating,” with little control over its own projects.
“We’re going to really try to get the ability to issue our own bonds for at least some small part of our projects,” she said, referring to program revenue-funded projects. Those include any projects where the university generates the income to pay the bonds.
Last year, the state turned down “almost all” of UW-Madison’s program revenue projects, even though they were fully funded, Blank said.
If that effort to gain control is successful, Blank says she expects construction companies to benefit as well as the university. Read the full story here.