KU mobilizes for legislative advocacy
By Kevin Boatright
The start of the 2003 legislative session gives
KU groups and individuals a unique opportunity to raise awareness in Topeka
of university-related budget issues.
On Jan. 27, Thelma Simons, president of the Unclassified Professional
Staff Association, spoke before the House Higher Education Committee,
chaired by Rep. Tom Sloan of Lawrence. In her presentation, Simons reviewed
the many services provided to students by unclassified staff, as well
as their academic backgrounds and professional experience.
“Unclassified staff are used to working hard,” Simons said.
“With the recent loss of positions at our university, we are being
stretched further and further. We believe that the work we do for the
university, and for the state, is important.”
She thanked Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for recommending a salary increase
next fiscal year for all state workers.
“While the percentage [1.5 percent] is small, we appreciate the
gesture and the acknowledgment of the vital role staff play in the success
of our state,” she said.
The Capitol will be a busy place for staff and students in February. In
addition to regular legislative contacts by University Relations staff,
several KU groups plan to make appearances in Topeka.
On Feb. 4, members of KU’s Classified Senate and their counterparts
from the five other regents universities will meet with selected legislators,
focusing on salary issues and other topics addressed in a Kansas Council
of Classified Senate position paper, which can be read at www.ku.edu/~clsenate/Position2004.doc.
Eight to 10 KU classified employees are expected
On Feb. 11, a delegation of about 30 student leaders from the six regents
universities will spend the day in Topeka, meeting with members of the
Legislature on a variety of higher education issues.
On Feb. 25, members of the UPSA Executive Board and other unclassified
staff also will visit legislators at the Capitol.
The UPSA general meeting on Feb. 12 is a prelude to that activity and
will feature a presentation by Janet Murguia, executive vice chancellor
for university relations, on “Communicating with the Legislature.”
For more information about UPSA, visit www.ku.edu/~upsa.
In addition, the boards of the Kansas Alumni Association and the Kansas
State University Alumni Association will meet jointly in Manhattan for
the first time Feb. 8 to discuss legislative issues. One outcome of this
historic meeting is expected to be a resolution addressed to legislators,
expressing broad alumni support for the state’s regents universities.
University Relations is working with student, staff, faculty and alumni
groups this year to help coordinate their legislative activities in Topeka.
“We want them to make the most of their contacts,” Murguia
said. “It makes sense for groups from all of the regents universities
to coordinate their messages and the timing of their visits so that information
reaches the right people and has the greatest impact.”
For more information about KU’s legislative relations program, call
University Relations at 864-7100.
Goals for the 2003 Legislative
Protect the base budget from further reductions and
Fund a 6 percent block operating grant increase for all institutions,
which would provide a regular salary increase for all staff and pay for
unavoidable employer costs, such as increases in health insurance and
Fund the third year of SB345 faculty salary enhancements
Fund the request for new building operating costs
Consider changes in state rules
and regulations that would free all public universities to manage themselves