NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A group of 20 state lawmakers has sent a letter to University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro questioning Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to privatize maintenance work on the campuses of the public college system.

The letter signed by 17 Republicans and three Democrats notes that Haslam has left it up to the leaders of each institution to decide whether they want to participate in the outsourcing plan. Haslam has argued that privatizing maintenance work at public colleges and universities could save $35 million per year and could help control future tuition hikes.

But the letter writers, led by Republican Sen. Richard Briggs of Knoxville, argue that the privatization of government jobs would benefit out-of-state companies, cause a loss of flexibility for schools and hurt loyal employees.