Topeka — Public institutions of higher education in Kansas have a multi-billion-dollar impact on the economy and improve the quality of the state, according to a study released Wednesday.
“This is not the time to be under-investing in something that is bringing such great returns,” said Ernest Goss, director of Dever-based The Goss Institute for Economic Research. Goss, an economics professor at Creighton University, did the $36,000 report on behalf of the Kansas Board of Regents.
Regents Chairman Gary Sherrer said the study should help the public and Legislature understand the impact that higher education has on the state’s economy.
The 51-page report breaks down that economic impact by county, legislative district and institution.
The Kansas Legislature is deciding on funding higher education for the next fiscal year in the face of a $500 million revenue shortfall.
Higher education has been cut approximately $100 million over the past two years, but Gov. Sam Brownback has called for essentially a flat level of funding for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.
The new study said public universities and colleges in Kansas had an estimated economic impact of $7.3 billion in 2010.
And each dollar in state tax support resulted in nearly $12 in Kansas economic activity, the report said.
The economic impacts included $3.4 billion in wages and salaries, 95,327 in additional jobs and $485 million in state and local tax collections. Douglas County, home of Kansas University, received the largest economic impact at $1.5 billion.
The study also looked at the connection between wages and education levels. In 2009, workers with a bachelor’s degree earned almost $50,000 per year more than a high school dropout.
“The evidence is pretty clear you want to keep an educated workforce,” said Goss.