Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wyoming Senate votes to fund crucial renovation of UW performing arts building

Good for you, Sen. Phil Nicholas, Republican from Laramie (and I don't say that often):
The Wyoming Senate voted Tuesday to take $30 million proposed for one-time highway projects and put it toward renovating and expanding the University of Wyoming performing arts and engineering buildings. 
Supporters said the money is needed for UW’s performing arts program to avoid losing accreditation and to renovate one of the school’s oldest buildings for engineering. 
Opponents said the Wyoming Department of Transportation needs every cent it can get just to maintain the state’s vital highway system. 
State Sen. Phil Nicholas, the Laramie Republican who sponsored the amendment to switch over the money, said AML funding shouldn’t be used as a short-term solution to fund highways while lawmakers continue debating a long-term funding source. 
Instead, he said, AML funds should be used by the state to diversify its economy. With 64 percent of state revenues coming from minerals, he said, one way the state can achieve that goal is to ensure the school of engineering is in “tip-top shape.” 
“All we’re doing is Band-Aiding [highways] for two years, and then we’re losing some enormously important opportunities,” Nicholas said. 
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Kind of amazing to note that the Legislature, with this amendment, considers the education of performing artists/teachers on par with educating engineers. Perhaps our state leaders are beginning to recognize the importance of the arts in Wyoming, now and for the future. We'll see what happens -- more votes ahead.

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