Last modified: Friday, February 28, 2003
Welch, Pierce update Trustees on legislative action
Two Bloomington-area lawmakers told Indiana University Trustees on Friday (Feb. 28) that it is vital for the university to continue to stress its statewide impact in making its case for more legislative funding.
Reps. Peggy Welch and Matt Pierce, both of Bloomington, discussed the ongoing budget process and other pending legislative issues in a meeting of the External Relations Committee of the IU Board of Trustees.
Welch, who serves as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said that lawmakers whose districts are not part of the state's university research triangle running from Bloomington to Indianapolis to West Lafayette sometimes question the money that goes into university research.
"But it is through this triangle that ideas are born and businesses are started that are spun off and have an impact on other parts of the state. And we have to do a better job of explaining that," Welch said.
"The message that will reverberate is that IU touches every community in the state," said Trustee Patrick Shoulders of Evansville. "IU's effects are statewide; we educate 40 percent of Indiana's doctors, 35 percent of the state's teachers, and most of the state's dentists and optometrists. IU's effects are statewide, and that is a message we have to keep stressing."
Pierce said he has been pleased both by the willingness of his legislative colleagues to consider a long-term economic strategy for Indiana and by their increased understanding of the role that university research can play in improving the state's economic future. But he agreed that "what we have to explain is the benefits and spin-offs (of university funding) far beyond Bloomington, West Lafayette and Indianapolis."
Welch warned that while the budget that passed the House had relatively good funding news both for K-12 and higher education, the final budget package will depend heavily on upcoming reports and projections about the state's fiscal condition.