On Jan. 29, after its second reading, the Pitt State Student Government Association (SGA) passed a resolution approving higher education funding in the state of Kansas.
The resolution was authored by Seth George, junior in hospitality management and SGA president, after meeting with other four-year student body presidents where they came up with the bill. The resolution comes after Governor Lauren Kelly released her proposed earmarks for the upcoming fiscal year.
“The Governor released her proposed earmarks for the upcoming fiscal year and we were not satisfied with how much she was earmarking for higher education…,” George said. “We just want more, so our goal is to hold tuition flat this year again and to have another 0% increase. So, for that to happen we have to at least get $30 million as a state. That is then divided up between all the four-year institutions.”
The resolution states that there “should be an effort to make higher education accessible to those who wish to pursue it”.
“Kansas is ranked 17th highest in the U.S. for student debt,” George said. “(This resolution) is to keep costs of higher education down in the state of Kansas that way we can attract more students to come…”
One of the main goals of the resolution is to keep the cost of tuition the same.
“This year we had a 0% increase, which hasn’t been done in a long time,” said Sumner Mackey, junior double-majoring in political science with an emphasis in pre-law and strategic communication and SGA Director of Legislative affairs, “So, we had that mentality that as long as you give us the money, we’re going to do our best to not raise tuition.”
Mackey became aware of the issues in funding in Kansas higher education after taking on the position of Director of Legislative affairs with the SGA.
“I need to know what’s going on with any issues that can pertain to higher education because I have to relay that back to the students,” Mackey said. “So, whenever I started getting involved with this position I realized this was going on. So, all the regent school’s kind of have this idea that we need to help out as much as we can to get more funding.”
The next step to try and get higher earmarks for higher education in Kansas will be when 16 representatives from the Pitt State student government will attend Higher Education day and lobby there.
“We’re going to lobby on the 18th of this month,” George said. “…we will actually meet with the governor and the majority leaders of the house and we’ll try and lobby and explain why we need that and then we will talk to other legislators that have the power to amend her budget and we’re hoping they will amend it and increase what we are earmarked to get.”
Representatives from other regent schools will split up and talk to the 26-28 different representatives about higher education and funding.
“So, the student senate has passed and have agreed to stand behind me in support of me going out and talking to legislators and talking on behalf of the students of Pittsburg State University and kind of back me in that students do think we need more funding,” George said.
According to George, students who wish to help support the resolution should write to local legislators.
“It always helps when more students go and talk and get to know what the legislators are working on and also shows students do care about these issues,” he said.