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Oklahoma colleges, universities face flat budgets in upcoming fiscal year

by Silas Allen Published: May 26, 2012

Oklahoma colleges and universities can expect to see their current funding levels continue through the upcoming fiscal year.

The Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education on Friday passed a budget for the state's higher education system that is roughly the same as the budget for the current fiscal year.

The budget is based on a $955.26 million allocation for higher education that was included in the state's budget for fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives on Thursday passed the $6.8 billion bill, four hours after the bill failed on a 47-47 tie. The bill awaits Gov. Mary Fallin's signature.

The state budget also allocates $57 million in dedicated funds for Oklahoma's Promise, a state regents program that gives scholarships to Oklahoma students who meet certain criteria and demonstrate financial need. That amount represents a $6.2 million cut over this year's budget.

Less than requested

The higher education allocation is nearly identical to the funding received last year, except that it includes as a part of its base funding $10 million the system received last year as supplemental funding.

The budget is $34.7 million less than Chancellor Glen Johnson requested in a budget proposal this year. Of that amount, $27.8 million would have gone toward mandatory cost increases, such as rising insurance premiums and utility costs.

Also included in the budget proposal were $4 million to pay down debt on the system's endowed chair bond issue and $98,729 for tuition waivers for concurrent enrollment courses, in which high school students can earn college credit.

The higher education budget eliminates funding for Oklahoma Teacher Connection, a teacher recruitment program. Amanda Paliotta, vice chancellor for budget and finance, said Thursday the program had been suspended the past two fiscal years. If the program is revived, it likely will be in a different form, she said.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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