Maroon and Gold Day at the Capitol
By Pauline Oo
From eNew, February 10, 2005
Over the next several months, Minnesota legislators will decide on the state biennial budget, which will include funding for the University for the next two years. The state's budgeting process officially began with the release of Governor Tim Pawlenty's biennial budget proposal at the end of January.
The University fared very well in the governor's recommendations, according to University officials. "We are pleased that the governor recognized the need for investment in the U and believe these recommendations are a good start. Now we need to take our case to the legislature," said Mike Dean, coordinator of the U's Legislative Network.
During the coming weeks, legislators will begin making decisions on how to fund the numerous organizations that receive state support. Many of these organizations will work to influence the budget decisions through letter writing, e-mails, and phone calls. That is why University advocates are stepping up their efforts as well.
"State legislators like hearing from their constituents," says former state representative Donna Peterson, who is director of the government relations office at the U. "They want to know what's important to the people in their district, and how they can help with their concerns. Supporters or advocates can give those heart-warming, first-hand accounts that can help legislators decide which public entities are deserving of state funding and how much they should get."
And that's what the University is counting on come Wednesday, February 23.
For the past two years the University has hosted Maroon and Gold Day at the Capitol. The half-day event is an opportunity for University students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the public to demonstrate their support for the U, says Dean.
Lions: another reason to visit the
"The Lion's Mane," a new exhibit by the Bell Museum of Natural History featuring work by U researchers Craig Packer and Peyton West, will be on display at the Minnesota State Capitol from February 11 to 24. The exhibit includes one of the life-sized toy lions with interchangeable wigs that the researchers used to test the reactions of real lions to different lion mane sizes and colors.
"It's a day where University supporters can speak directly with legislators and see the legislative process at work," he says. "And this year, more than ever, speaking to legislators is important because the University cannot afford another round of budget cuts. Urging state leaders to reverse the trend of declining state support is key in maintaining a strong University for the state.
For information about the University's capital and bonding requests, see www.umn.edu/govrel.