It’s going to be a different kind of year in Topeka, at least as it concerns the Kansas Legislature and higher education. That was part of the message that PSU President Steve Scott and Shawn Naccarato, director of governmental and community relations for the university, shared with faculty and staff at a meeting on Friday, Feb. 14.
The passage of an unusual two-year budget last year means that the university’s advocacy efforts this year will focus on supporting Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget revision proposals. Brownback has proposed restoring the “salary” cap cut over the next two fiscal years, adding $15.25 million for career and technical education programs, and an additional $8.2 million in targeted strategic investments at the universities. At PSU, that targeted money would put $1 million toward the proposed Career and Technical Education Teacher Development and Innovation Center (CTE-TDIC).
The president acknowledged that while there didn’t seem to be much interest in Topeka in pouring significant additional resources into higher education, some lawmakers seem more willing to make targeted investments, such as the Polymer Chemistry Program and the proposed CTE-TDI.
Scott and Naccarato said they are seeing some positive effects from intensive advocacy efforts like the legislative bus tour visit last fall and personal visits they have made to legislators in their home communities.
“Last year we had a lot of people who were questioning the value of higher education,” President Scott said. “I think they have pulled back from that.”
The focus now, he said, is telling the Pitt State story. Telling that story is the purpose of a PowerPoint presentation he shared, which he will take to legislators this month. The presentation begins with a reminder of the university’s earliest motto: “By Doing Learn.” Other key messages in the presentation include partnerships, alignment with state objectives, stewardship, program excellence and continued growth.
President Scott encouraged those at the meeting to stay up to date on the legislative process as the session progresses. He also promised to continue to speak on their behalf as he meets with legislators.
“We want you to know that you are being advocated for,” Scott said.
The full presentation was recorded and will be posted on the president’s page on the website.
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