WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue University President Mitch Daniels said he won't lobby lawmakers on the university's behalf this session because it's too soon after his departure from the governor's office.
Daniels became Purdue's president last week after serving two terms as governor. He told the Journal & Courier that he'd like at least one year to pass before he lobbies state lawmakers on the merits of Purdue's funding requests.
"I don't think it is essential that I be here," he said. "And since it is not, I think there are some reasons to let at least one season go by."
Daniels also said Purdue's budget was crafted by others months before he started his new job in West Lafayette.
Purdue provost Tim Sands will be the university's face at the Statehouse for hearings on the school's budget requests for 2013-15. Sands served as Purdue's acting president for six months.
Purdue is seeking $313.4 million in operating appropriations system-wide for each of the next two years. That's a $1.1 million — or 0.3 percent — increase from present funding levels.
The university also wants approval for a $74 million, 100,000-square-foot academic building and $10 million in annual funding for an advanced manufacturing center to be run with Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University.
The question of whether state rules governing former state employees might prevent Daniels from lobbying lawmakers for Purdue was raised in complaints filed last fall with the state's inspector general.
Inspector General David Thomas and Tim Grogg, the state Department of Administration's executive director of executive branch lobbying, both issued informal advisory opinions and found nothing prevented Daniels from lobbying.
Nonetheless, Rep. Sheila Klinker, D-Lafayette, said she agreed with Daniels' decision to hold off lobbying lawmakers for at least a year.
She said she doesn't expect his absence to impact Purdue's budget request, adding that Sands' testimony at the House Ways and Means Committee earlier this month was one of the best among state universities.
"I think that was a wise decision for Daniels," she said. "The legislators are asked to wait a year before they tend to lobby out in the hall or be here. I think it is going to make President Daniels more comfortable when he does come here."