By ALLYSON COOK
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG.com) — The University of Central Missouri’s student body president, Luke Hawley, recently traveled to the state capitol with UCM President Chuck Ambrose to meet with lawmakers to discuss the state budget.
They met with Sen. Denny Hoskins of Warrensburg and his staff; UCM’s lobbyist, Luann Madsen, and Gov. Eric Greitens’ chief policy director, Will Scharf.
“My goal was to portray the average student voice,” Hawley said. “(I) wanted to tell them what we have been thinking and how we feel and why it’s important to invest in our education.”
Hawley said he wanted to show them that it is important for the state to invest in Missouri’s colleges because he believes it is an investment in the future of the state.
Ambrose said Hawley represented UCM well.
“Understanding that opening the door of opportunity by holding college costs low, providing opportunities for support and engagement that helps students graduate on time, and degrees that make our graduates competitive in Missouri for both life and work are the values that Luke represents so well,” Ambrose said.
Hawley said the more students who decide to attend college in Missouri, the more likely they are to end up staying in Missouri.
“The case for college and the investment that the state of Missouri makes in higher education was made clear by Luke and the UCM student’s voice that he represents,” Ambrose said.
Greitens has already given his FY 2018 budget recommendation to the Missouri House and Senate. His recommendation includes cutting funding for higher education by $572 million.
Hawley said if the budget passes the House and Senate, it will go to the Appropriations Committee and then it goes back to the governor where he can edit the budget with a line-item veto.
Hawley said Hoskins is planning to speak on the Senate floor within the next few weeks to explain UCM’s interest in the budget. He said Hoskins was very receptive of their thoughts on the budget and the student voice.
“I think everyone I talked to really cared about what students were going through,” Hawley said.
Hawley said the last part of the day was spent speaking with Scharf. He said they talked about how universities can become more efficient with their budgets.
“We talked with him about what we can do to help the problem,” Hawley said. “But we also reiterated it’s important for the state to invest in students.”
Hawley said the takeaways from his visit to the capital are that legislators have to make difficult decisions, but nothing will change if you don’t talk with lawmakers.
“Even if we could change (the budget) a percent and a half, that’s one more student that gets to join a club because we have enough money to do it,” Hawley said.