Report finds no issue with lobbying by KCTCS

lblackford@herald-leader.comMarch 20, 2012 

Two years ago, lawmakers asked for a review of lobbying practices by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, after they were surprised by a newspaper report that said the system had spent $1.3 million to lobby the General Assembly.

The final report by the Program Review and Investigations Committee found that the amount spent by KCTCS was less than 1 percent of its total funding, well in line with what other public universities spend.

The report said administrative costs at KCTCS were higher than at other universities, but the system was statutorily mandated to ensure coordination among its 16 community and technical schools.

In the end, the report made only two recommendations:

■ If the General Assembly doesn't want state funds to be used for lobbying, it should make a law to that effect.

■ If the General Assembly wants more detailed financial information on issues such as presidential pay and administrative costs, it needs to require the Council on Postsecondary Education to collect it.

The committee's co-chairman, Republican Sen. Jimmy Higdon of Lebanon, said legislators had been concerned about KCTCS advertising in Rupp Arena and Freedom Hall, and about the number of trinkets, such as pens and T-shirts, that KCTCS staffers handed out when lobbying the legislature not to cut funding.

"Most legislators know how expensive that stuff is, and we were worried about it," Higdon said. "I think KCTCS got the message."

Higdon said he might recommend that the General Assembly push for more financial information from the schools.

KCTCS vice president Tim Burcham said the report proved that KCTCS had done nothing improper.

"It's the way things are done marketing our institutions, which we need to do," he said.

Linda Blackford: (859) 231-1359 Twitter: @lbblackford.

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