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Morning Sun
  • Regents hear about economic impact

  • Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback largely left the budget of the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) alone in his recommendations for the state budget. A study presented at Wednesday’s Board of Regents meeting   seemed to argue that was the right decision.

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  • Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback largely left the budget of the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) alone in his recommendations for the state budget. A study presented at Wednesday’s Board of Regents meeting   seemed to argue that was the right decision.
    The KBOR called for an independent group, Goss and Associates, to assess the economic impact of the Board of Regents on the state. That study, which was presented Wednesday, seemed to indicate that higher education was a strong investment for the state.
    Dr. Ernie Goss, of Goss and Associates, began the report by indicating just how this information may be used.
    “This is not the only measurement we should use in higher education,” Goss said. “But certainly those who are interested or disinterested in funding higher education should know what they are investing in and what it provides to the state.”
    Perhaps the simplest statistic produced by the study is that each $1 spent in state taxes produces $11.94 in economic activity for the state. Simply put, the KBOR system created more than $7.3 billion in economic impact on Kansas just in 2010.
    In fact, several facts and figures produced by the study are worth noting. Regents institutions refer to four-year schools (Kansas, Kansas State, Wichita State, Pittsburg State, etc.) while KBOR system includes all community and technical schools:
    • Population — The study looked at Kansas counties which have lost population over each of the previous four decades. In the 1970s, only one county with a Regents institution lost population. Since then, no county with a Regents institution in it has lost population in any decade, while 41 Kansas counties have lost population in each decade since 1970.
    • Employment rates — Residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher have an unemployment rate of just 4.5 percent. Those who drop out of high school have a much higher unemployment rate of 16.5 percent.
    • Added earning potential — Students who complete any sort of degree from any Kansas school of higher education earn more than someone who has no such degree. Across all levels of graduates, the KBOR system adds nearly $296 million in added earning potential, also referred to as the “Brain Gain.”
    • Payback period — Goss tended to refer to himself as an economist more than anything else, so it makes sense to use an economic statistic. The report indicated the amount of time needed to “pay back” the state tax support for various occupations. For instance, an aerospace engineering student from a regents institution will pay back the state tax support within 2.2 years.  An accountant will pay back the tax help within 3.5 years, and a computer systems analyst will pay it back in 6.1 years. On the lower end of the scale, a kindergarten teacher will pay back the tax support within 16.1 years.
    Regents members found the results of the study to be surprising, and said they hoped the numbers could be used to show the need for supporting KBOR with state tax dollars.
    Page 2 of 2 - “The most surprising thing to me would be the payback period. It’s short,” said Gary Scherrer, KBOR chairman. “I would have thought it would be much longer. According to historical data, Kansas has not kept pace with other states in terms of an investment. The evidence in the report is that this is a good way to invest money.”
    Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.
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