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Monday, June 27, 2022
Walker veto to limit UW System’s control on performance-based measures

UW System schools will no longer be able to choose which categories of performance-based metrics they will be measured on after Gov. Walker made his partial veto.

Walker veto to limit UW System’s control on performance-based measures

UW System institutions will no longer be able to choose which categories of the performance-based metrics they will be measured by, after Gov. Scott Walker made his vetoes on the state’s 2017-19 budget Wednesday.

In his veto message in brief, Walker said allowing institutions to pick their own metrics is “likely to result in funding allocations based upon metrics that are easiest for institutions to improve upon or maintain.”

The Board of Regents will still create the plan that disperses funding for the UW System through the metrics which the Joint Finance Committee has to approve.

However, Don Moynihan, a UW-Madison professor, said the one-size-fits-all approach fails to acknowledge that each school is different from one another.

“People hear UW and mostly think of Madison, but the UW System has 26 campuses,” Moynihan said. “It’s bigger and more diverse than pretty much any place that has tried performance budgeting. There are some important differences in campus mission and in the students served. It therefore makes sense to give campuses flexibility in how they are evaluated to reflect that difference.”

Back in February, Walker’s originally proposed budget included performance-based metrics as a system for funding the UW schools, with institutions that improve more in each area receiving a larger chunk of the total $31.5 million in new funding. The provision was met with skepticism from some, including UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, who said it “pitted schools against one another.”

“I have no problems with accountability requirements,” Blank said in an April statement. “Indeed, the entire UW System already reports on a series of accountability measures that can be found here. But the devil is in the details when you start trying to figure out how to tie the distribution of dollars to these metrics.”

UW-Madison associate professor Nick Hillman, who has analyzed Walker’s proposed metrics, said the veto “now takes a one-size-fits-all approach to performance that may work against the very goals some campuses are trying to pursue.”

For example, a school that focuses its resources on improving graduation rates for transfer students will not be rewarded if that specific metric is not a part of the funding model, Hillman said.

“I would say that the purpose of those original provisions was to introduce some degree of mission-differentiation for campuses. Campuses in the System have different missions and goals, so a funding system should reflect those differences,” Hillman said. “A better way forward is to align metrics to each campus’ goals to the extent possible, but this seems to be off the table now.”

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