Pizza and Politics: higher education and the legislative process

K-State Alumni Communications
Nearly 130 K-State students, faculty and staff attended the eighth annual Pizza and Politics forum co-sponsored by the K-State Alumni Association, K-State’s Office of Governmental Relations and the Student Government Association on Nov. 13. (Photo: K-State Alumni Association)

Nearly 130 K-State students, faculty and staff attended the eighth annual Pizza and Politics forum co-sponsored by the K-State Alumni Association, K-State’s Office of Governmental Relations and the Student Government Association. The event took place Nov. 13 at the K-State Alumni Center.

Pizza and Politics offers the K-State community an opportunity to learn more about the legislative process and its impact on education. It also creates an awareness of the advocacy efforts underway for higher education and how interested parties can get involved.

Following a social hour with pizza, the audience heard from a panel of political speakers including Raney Gilliland, director of the Kansas Legislative Research Department; Dan Murray, interim director of government relations for the Kansas Board of Regents; and state Sen. Michael O’Donnell, who represents District 25 in the Wichita area.

Key messages coming out of the forum included highlights on what to anticipate for higher education in the 2015 legislative session. All three panelists agreed the state’s revenue shortfall will make the budget a major issue to address in the legislative session ahead.

They noted that most legislators want to support higher education but that they will have to make difficult and deliberate decisions to protect mandatory programs, such as Medicaid. Those budget decisions will likely impact higher education and other areas outside of the critical needs areas for the state.

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The panelists also offered several tips and points to consider when advocating for higher education:
• Kansas is an agriculture state and legislators are driven by economics and creating jobs and wealth for the state.
• Legislators want to provide quality education for Kansas residents.
• As an advocate, know what you are talking about – know the facts about the issues you are advocating.
• Know who you are talking with and their current preferences or positions on issues.
• Have valid messages that are informative. Knowledge is power.

It also was noted that this is one of the youngest legislative classes in the history of Kansas, and that presents a real opportunity for students and younger advocates to reach out to legislators.

View more photos from this event here.

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