Lawmakers debate privatizing state printing and motor pool

With business sagging and some agencies complaining, lawmakers are questioning whether the state ought to get out of the printing business.

Director of Administration Perry Comeaux told them the state Printing Office is "fighting for survival," with Printer Don Bailey trying to find more work. Bailey's problems include business lost to desktop publishing as more and more agencies buy high-grade computer printers. In addition, agencies tend to reduce or delay print orders when facing budget cuts.

That prompted Sen. Sandra Tiffany, R-Henderson, to question whether Bailey would be competing with private industry as he seeks new customers.

"As long as it is serving government, it is not in competition with the private sector," Comeaux said.

He said the printing office was talking to the university system and local governments about handling their printing needs.

Assembly Ways and Means Chairman Morse Arberry, D-Las Vegas, said losing the state printer would be bad for the Legislature. He said having a private printer attempt to do what the printer does, especially at the end of session, would cost an exorbitant amount of money. He referred to the crush of business when printers work practically around the clock to produce reprints of bills and fiscal notes.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, agreed.

"We have unusual needs and unusual requests," he said. Raggio said he wasn't sure a private company could meet the needs of the Legislature.

He said a few years ago, a study showed it costs $650 to print a bill and make the necessary copies.

Raggio suggested in jest that it would save some money if lawmakers were billed for legislation that fails to pass.

Asked about the possibility of privatizing the state motor pool, Comeaux said he doubted that would provide significant cost savings. He said the state has solicited bids from private companies to supply cars for state workers on business both north and south and should be able to say whether it privatization would save money by mid-February.

The state has 787 vehicles and a motor pool budget of just under $4 million a year.


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