Topeka Proponents of outsourcing more government functions to the private sector got a boost in the House on Friday.
The House approved, 68-51, a bill setting up an 11-member council on privatization that would evaluate and advise the Legislature on opportunities for state agencies to outsource when cost-effective.
Rep. Marvin Kleeb, R-Overland Park, said Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, supported the bill.
Rep. Mike Burgess, R-Topeka, said House Bill 2194 would set up a logical process to determine whether a move toward privatization made sense.
“Before we embark on any privatization, this would provide us with a business case,” Burgess said.
Rep. Joe McLeland, R-Wichita, added an amendment to include looking at privatization possibilities in higher education. Earlier this week, McLeland succeeded in putting a provision in the proposed budget that would require the Kansas Board of Regents to conduct a study on whether to privatize functions and services at higher-education institutions.
But opponents of the bill said it was a waste of time and money.
Several legislators said it was unknown how much the legislation would increase staff work in state agencies. They also said the council would draw expenses for meetings.
“You vote for this, you’re going to grow government, and you’re going to issue a blank check,” said Rep. Eber Phelps, D-Hays.
Some senators were skeptical too. Senate Vice President John Vratil, R-Leawood, questioned the wisdom of creating a government panel “to shrink government.”
Jane Carter, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said the bill was one of several approved by House Republicans that would hurt state workers.