Caucas to meet with citizens

The Northern Kentucky Legislative Caucus will hold a public meeting on campus to provide a forum for constituents to voice concerns and offer input on issues facing the Northern Kentucky region.

“This is an opportunity for citizens to come and talk about issues they care about,” said Robert Schrage, assistant director for the Northern Kentucky Area Development District.

The group of legislators will listen to topics raised by the audience, Schrage said.

Topics discussed at the meeting “will be completely driven by what people bring up,” he said.

Katie Herschede, president of the Student Government Association, said that now is the time for students to “show up and have their say.”

The university is currently preparing for possible cuts in funding, while the state legislature tries to hammer out a budget in Frankfort.

Herschede said it is imperative for students to tell the legislature that funding higher education is a top priority.

Among other things the senators and representatives need to recognize that higher education will raise the per capita income of the region, said Herschede, “It is of central importance to the future of the commonwealth.”

If cuts are implemented by the state, NKU may be forced to make cuts that limit access to the university and lower the educational quality while raising tuition.

President James Votruba said the cuts would affect constituent’s lives.

“We have to convince the public to convince the legislature,” he said.

SGA has implemented an action plan, which includes “flooding the system” with letters and e-mails and traveling to Frankfort on Feb. 27 for a rally and press conference in support of higher education.

“It’s not fair (for the state) to cut more and pass the buck” to students and families, Herschede said.

Typically, the General Assembly meets on even years and establishes a bi-annual budget. However, the 2003 Legislative Session of the General Assembly is a shortened, off-year session, which makes passing a budget more difficult.

Governor Patton has not submitted a budget and it is uncertain, at this point, if he plans to.

Herschede said if a budget is not passed during the 2003 Legislative Session, the Assembly can call a special session but “no one knows what will happen or when.”

“There are never any for-sure answers in politics,” she said.

The Northern Kentucky Legislative Caucus meeting will be held in the University Center cafeteria on Saturday, Feb. 1 from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Questions will be answered on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Students, faculty, staff and residents of Northern Kentucky are encouraged to come and participate in the forum.