Kansas legislators to visit campus


K-State will play host to about 45 Kansas lawmakers and staff on Tuesday. Members of the Senate Ways and Means and House Appropriations committees will be on campus as part of a legislative tour that will allow legislators to gather information from Kansas’ six state universities, Washburn Institute of Technology and Fort Scott Community College.

The legislative tour will occur just months after lawmakers approved a budget that reduced funding to higher education in the state of Kansas by $35 million over the next two fiscal years.

Sue Peterson, director of Governmental Relations at K-State, said that prior to their visit, legislators submitted 81 questions and about 10 years of data. The answers to these questions are to be presented to legislators on their visit.

“These questions are to help legislators get a handle on the complex budgeting issues of a university,” Peterson said. “These questions will help them understand how universities run, how we put our budgets together and how their decisions in Topeka affect universities.”

Peterson said that it is important for students to realize that legislators are willing to come to campus to listen and learn. Some of the areas that these questions address are student debt, job placement and cost of attendance.

Peterson shared the fact that the cost of attending K-State has increased by a little over $7,000 since 2003. The cost of attendance at K-State, which includes tuition, room and board, books and supplies, campus activities fees and other living expenses, was $13,921 in 2003. In 2012, the cost of attendance at K-State had increased to $21,331.

Garrett Kays, sophomore in agricultural economics and one of K-State’s Governmental Relations Legislative Assistants, has been helping to plan what the legislators’ visit to campus will look like.

“Our team has mainly helped out with logistics for the event,” Kays said. “We want these legislators to truly have an inside look at Kansas State University, so we have been working hard to make sure they are aware of all the great things that are happening on campus.”

The tour will begin at 9:45 a.m. with a public hearing in the Big Twelve Room at the K-State Student Union. Student Body President Eli Schooley is scheduled to start the tour with a short presentation. Legislators are then slated to tour campus in small groups beginning at 11:30 a.m. Student tour guides will give the same tour that prospective students and their parents receive.

After lunch, the legislators will tour Seaton Hall to give them an opportunity to view facilities and classrooms on the K-State campus.

After the Seaton Hall tour, the legislators will board a bus and participate in a driving tour of campus led by Schooley. This tour will highlight the International Grain Center and the progress of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), which is being built on K-State’s campus.

Legislators will then stop for a steak dinner, which will be prepared by K-State Animal Science students.

Jeff Morris, vice president of communications and marketing at K-State, said that it is important that the university show legislators what K-State is all about.

“Students need to be aware that they are here and that they are taking the time to visit with us,” Morris said. “We are listening to them, and they are listening to us.”