USC Aiken Leaders, Students Visit Lawmakers

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AIKEN, SC (02/26/2018) A contingent of University of South Carolina Aiken leaders, students and friends of the university met with local representatives, senators, and legislative members in the statehouse to share insight on USC Aiken's fiscal priorities for the coming year.

"This is a very busy time of the year for all of us. For me, and several cabinet members, the fact that the legislature is in session and in the process of constructing the next budget, shifts a good deal of our time and attention to the statehouse," said Dr. Sandra Jordan, chancellor.

"In addition to tracking changes to existing legislation, new mandates tacked on to legislation, and the introduction of new bills, we are working with our local delegation to shape budget priorities for 2019."

The students visited right about the time the House of Representative's sub-committee planned to make its budget recommendation to the full house.

"Historically, if the university's budget request is not recommended by the House Ways and Means, it has to be introduced from the house or senate floor. Changing the budget from the floor is extremely challenging and unless there is an emergency or special crisis, it is typically unsuccessful," Jordan said.

Just hours after the statehouse visit, House Ways and Means budget was released, and USC Aiken was included in it. The proposed budget includes $3.5 million for repairs to the Penland HVAC system, which has exceeded its life expectancy by several decades.

Replacing the HVAC system is very expensive for a number of reasons. First, the roof of the building must be removed in order to lower the system into place, then the roof must be replaced. The project includes replacing the ductwork, which will require replacing ceiling tiles. Finally, because of the extensive nature of the project, USC Aiken will be required by federal mandate to bring other Penland systems, such as the fire repression system, up to code.

In addition to sharing budgetary priorities the students who visited with the local legislative delegation learned about important lawmaking processes.

"The students were respectful and inquisitive and asked insightful questions," Jordan said.

"We were very proud of the way they represented USC Aiken."