Budget includes Informatics Center

Photo courtesy of Bud Kraft

With major projects pending and historic under-funding, all eyes were on Frankfort March 21 as the Kentucky Senate passed its version of the state budget.

The budget includes the $36.5 million Center for Informatics, as well as bonds and some benchmark funding. From this point, the budget must now return to legislators to negotiate the final numbers for submission in a formal budget to the governor. If the proposed budget passes it could be a beneficial year for NKU in the 2006 legislative session.

In hopes of creating a beneficial year, the Presidential Ambassadors, College Republicans and College Democrats came together in February to lobby state funding for NKU. With the assistance of Joe Wind, associate vice president for government and community relations, students have an all access pass to the inner-workings of the legislative and budget making processes in Frankfort.

Along with NKU president, James Votruba and members of the universities executive team, the group met with Speaker of the House Jody Richards, Representative Dennis Keane, President of the Senate David Williams, President Pro Tempore of the Senate Katie Kratz Stein as well as other local representatives and senators. The faculty and students discussed why NKU needed more funds.

This is the third year the NKU student groups have traveled to Frankfort. In the last legislative session, the group of students assisted in lobbying to secure general funding allotments, bonds to build the new Student Union, as well as $54 million for the Bank of Kentucky Center, a new 9,000 seat multi-use arena.

“I am very thankful for the student’s participation.” Votruba said. Presidential Ambassadors President Anna Hogan helped organize the trip and said the mission is “to give NKU a face in Frankfort and assist the university in closing the historic gap in lack of funding from the state. Lack of funding for the university has been an issue in Frankfort.” According to the Council on Post-Secondary Education, NKU is behind the regional average for academic space per student, student tuition share percentage and overall state funding.

“There are several factors that can be debated as to why the university is so under-funded. One of them is the lack in presence of Northern Kentucky University in Frankfort beyond university administration. That was the driving force behind the trip; to give a visual presence to NKU in the faces of the people it impacts the most: its students.” Hogan said.

The group also included NKU professor Ryan L. Teten, PhD in the political science department whom attended the lobbying trip said, “The [students] presence alone is powerful.”

Senator and President Pro Tempore Katie Kratz Stine said, “Seeing the students is a great way to reinforce for all senators that NKU is a regional university and a vote for NKU is a vote for the region as a whole.”