Topeka The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a provision that tells the Kansas Board of Regents to conduct a study on whether it would make economical sense to privatize many of the jobs at public colleges.
State Rep. Joe McLeland, R-Wichita, successfully put the proposal in the higher education budget that will now go to the full House for consideration.
McLeland said he wants the regents to study whether to privatize the operation of physical plants, janitorial services and other functions and services.
For example, he said, there are hotel chains that are experts in housing. Perhaps, he said, dorms could be sold or leased to them.
State Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, opposed McLeland’s amendment. She said residence halls are more than places for students to sleep. They are homes for students where they participate in programs and can receive help. “Sometimes, privatizing will not quite do that,” she said.
But state Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia, supported doing a study, noting the state’s financial problems. Kansas faces an estimated $492 million revenue shortfall in the next fiscal year.
“Kansas is beginning to wake up and realize that things have changed,” Mast said. “Our economy is not as affluent. It’s time we open our eyes and realize we need to look for savings.”
Some Republicans on the committee opposed McLeland’s proposal because they wanted the study to be done by an outside party, not the regents, which oversees higher education.
McLeland’s amendment was close to dying on a 9-9 vote, but Appropriations Chairman Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, broke the tie to put the proposal in the budget bill. Under the amendment, the regents would have to report the results of the study to the 2012 Legislature.