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Volume 68, Issue 98 , Tuesday, February 18, 2003


UH supporters head to Austin

By Nikie Johnson
Senior Staff Writer

Austin may be a Longhorns town, but the Cougars are taking over today with one thing on their minds: money.

Cougar Advocates for Texas will bus 500 students, alumni, faculty and staff to the capitol city to help persuade legislators not to cut UHis state funding.

"Members of the Legislature are accustomed to hearing from administrators, so itis important that they hear from constituents," Vice President for Governmental Relations Grover Campbell said.

The buses will leave campus at 8 a.m. for Austin. On the way, the CATS will be briefed on what to say to legislators. Once there, they will attend a lunch reception and then will head to the Capitol Building. The CATS will be broken into smaller groups, and the plan is to have a group talk to someone in every single legislatoris office.

To end the event, the CATS will attend a banquet at Joeis Crab Shack in Austin, which legislators and their aides will be invited to attend.

This year, as Texas faces a staggering $9.9 billion budget shortfall, UH is hoping to avoid budget cuts rather than trying to get any extra funding. "Maintaining the momentum" was the phrase Campbell used to describe this yearis goals.

During the last legislative session, UH asked the Legislature to establish a counterpart fund to the Permanent University Fund, which provides the University of Texas and Texas A&M University with hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

Instead, two funds were created. One gives money to A&M and UT system schools that donit receive PUF money, and the other gives money to other state schools, including UH.

The theme of this yearis effort is "One goal, one fund." UH will advocate for the funds to be combined and for the money to be allocated differently. The current system, according to UH officials, is unfair because schools with lower enrollments and less research capability get the same amount of money as bigger, more research-oriented schools.

"I think that anything we do right now (to support UH) is a good thing," senior history major Beth Payne said. "Growing up in Texas, you realize that people believe itis a two-college state, and itis not. We need support too."

This year will be the third time CATS, which is a joint project of the Houston Alumni Organization and the Office of Governmental Relations, has gone to Austin. In 2001, about 450 members of the UH community went on the trip.

"It was fun," Payne said. "I got to meet a lot of people, and I got to know a little more about how the political system works."

She said she couldnit tell at the time how much of an impact the CATS had, because she spoke more to aides than to actual legislators, but she is sure anything that gets the word out about UH helps.

Campbell, however, was more positive about how the trip affected the outcome of the legislative session. "Iim certain it did (have a positive impact)," he said.

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