Kansas bill on schools releasing graduates' salaries stalls

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A proposal that would require some Kansas universities to publicize information on their graduates' average salaries, student loan debt and employment has stalled in a House committee after lawmakers expressed concern that it was too expensive and onerous.

The measure passed the Senate in March, but faced stiff scrutiny by members of the House Education Committee, who made several changes to it and adjourned without taking action on it. That means it is unlikely to be addressed again until next year, said Chairman and Republican Rep. Ron Highland from Wamego.

The bill is supported by conservative organizations Kansas Policy Institute and Americans for Prosperity, which said in written testimony that it would hold the institutions accountable for their prices and help prospective students to decide which university and major to choose by allowing them to compare the average economic outcomes of graduates from each university and degree track.

But the Kansas Board of Regents and university associations have opposed the bill, saying that they already provide much of the same information, but not with the same specificity and manner than the bill requires. The extra research required to comply with the bill was estimated to cost $3.3 million to $5.3 million per year.

Republican Rep. Sue Boldra from Hays, who both serves on the committee and is an instructor at Fort Hays University, said that she believes the best solution would be to informally ask universities to adhere to the bill's specific requirements, like putting all of the information onto one page, rather than mandating it by law.

"If they really want us to put it in one page, we can do that. Just ask us to do it," Boldra said. "Let's all be grown up here and assume that everybody is going to do their jobs."

After Republican Rep. Amanda Grosserode from Lenexa moved to table the bill until next year, Highland abruptly adjourned the hearing to halt the move.

Highland said that although he doubts the bill will move forward this year, he acted in order to "leave that door open."

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