Over the past several weeks, I've heard Pennsylvania state legislators from Lackawanna County say some very interesting and pithy things about the ways that Pennsylvania residents should interact with their state lawmakers.
In mid-November, in downtown Scranton, state Rep. Marty Flynn (D-113) urged Penn State Grassroots Network volunteers to make their voices heard -- loudly and repeatedly -- if they wanted to support Penn State or have an impact on other government action: "The bird that chirps is the one that gets fed."
Earlier this month, at a "meet your legislator" event at Penn State Worthington Scranton, state Rep. Kevin Haggerty (D-112) had a similar message for students and campus staff: "Pester your legislators!"
In their own ways, each was saying the same thing:
1. You have to get in touch and stay in touch with your elected officials if you want Harrisburg to take a particular kind of action.
2. Making something happen in Harrisburg isn't a once-and-done kind of thing.
What you have to do, they said, is to develop an ongoing relationship with your state legislators. You have to tell them your personal story, so the issue comes alive. And finally, with your fellow volunteers, you have to ask for exactly the same thing -- which in this case is, "Please do the best you can in 2014 to support Penn State."
That means giving Penn State the healthiest state appropriation possible, within the constraints of what will probably be a very tight state budget. Healthy state support for Penn State means that it can maintain the substantial in-state "tuition discount" for Pennsylvania resident students, preserve and enhance the high quality of a Penn State education, keep tuition increases as low as possible, and keep all Penn State locations strong and vital.
Both Flynn and Haggerty expressed their support for Penn State and urged their constituents to get in touch with them often.
Finally, kudos to Candyce Mays, vice president of the Student Government Association at Penn State Worthington Scranton, for pulling together the well-organized and well-attended event at her campus!