via Maclver Institute By Jessica Murphy
Today, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) will vote on the 2017-19 UW System budget. One key concern that will reappear in this decision - the millions in surplus funds that the UW System has left almost untouched, even after the legislature's requirement to spend more of this "slush fund.
"The UW System came under fire in 2013 after members of the CPA Caucus uncovered a hidden $1 billion "slush fund" made up of program revenue (PR) balances. Legislators were livid that the UW System continued to increase tuition and ask for more state funding if they had these surplus funds hidden away. What do these balances look like today?
In their report on the UW System (FY 2015-16) released in April of 2017, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee highlights a rather large Program Revenue (PR) balance in the UW System. The total PR balance increased from $1.182 billion in FY 2015 to $1.188 billion in FY 2016 - a 0.5% growth.
You read that right - four years after being required to start spending down the slush fund, or unrestricted PR reserves, the total balance actually grew in the last year. That's why it's still important to ask for an independent, comprehensive audit of the entire UW System.
The report also notes that unrestricted program revenue - which includes tuition, auxiliary operations, general operations, other unrestricted program revenue, and federal indirect cost reimbursement - has decreased by $40.6 million from 2015 to 2016. This unrestricted revenue is the value of the so-called "slush fund," which amounted to $883.3 million at the end of FY 2016.
It seems as though the UW System is taking steps to bring down the surplus funds, but considering it still has $883.3 million cash on hand, there's still plenty of room to improve. For perspective, this slush fund value is equivalent to more than 85 percent of the state support given to the UW in FY 16.
The complete story here > Four Years After the Slush Fund Scandal: Where Does the UW Stand?