If passed, 'campus carry' could bring cost UT System $39 million

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Photo Credit: Alex Dolan | Daily Texan Staff

The UT System estimates “campus carry,” if passed, would cost UT campuses $39 million in additional security measures, but a UT-Austin fiscal note said the bill would have no significant fiscal impact for the school.

According to UT-Austin’s fiscal note, which estimates expenses associated with campus carry, the policy would not cost the University any additional funds. The System gathered the documents and submitted them to the Legislative Budget Board for review.

UT-Austin spokesman Gary Susswein said the note operates under the assumption that students would fund any storage costs for guns in residence halls. Susswein said it is early in the legislative session, and the University budget for campus carry is not official and may change as the session continues.

“If our decision ends up different than our assumption, there could be some costs to the University,” Susswein said.

Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), author of SB 11, which would implement campus carry, said in a statement he thinks these additional funds are not necessary expenses.

“It is patently absurd to suggest that additional security resources would be needed to accommodate faculty, staff or student [concealed handgun license (CHL)]-holders on Texas campuses,” Birdwell said in a statement. “I think it is bordering on offensive to suggest that [CHL-holders] will conduct themselves any less thoughtfully or lawfully the moment they set foot inside a university building.”

A recent UT/Texas Tribune poll found that Texans are split on campus carry. Forty-seven percent of those polled are in favor of the policy, whereas 45 percent are opposed.

“UT leadership on the University level and the System level has been very clear in their opposition to the idea of campus carry, and I think that remains the case,” Susswein said.

Susswein said there are currently not any anticipated additional costs for UTPD.

“There would be some new training that is added, but that would be part of their ongoing and regular training,” Susswein said.

There might also be additional costs associated with enhanced security systems, Susswein said, but it is not clear whether these measures will be required.

The majority of the UT System’s $39 million estimated cost comes from its six medical branches. Most significantly, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center estimated it would require $22 million dollars to increase staff size and training for its police department and to install security systems, such as card readers, UT System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said.

“It’s clear that there are inherent safety risks in a medical setting that present specific challenges, such as medical equipment, the presence of chemicals held under high pressure, safety concerns for patients and providing necessary storage for handguns that doesn’t currently exist,” LaCoste-Caputo said in an email.

UT-Dallas, UT-El Paso and UT-Rio Grande Valley have also requested additional funds to accommodate campus carry if the bill were to pass. Combined, the institutions requested about $630,000 for security measures.

“The total UT System budget is $15.6 billion,” LaCoste-Caputo said in an email. “Still, $39 million is a substantial amount of money that would have to be covered through existing funding. It’s too early to say where that money would come from, but it would have an impact.”