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Oklahoma higher education leaders hope to avoid budget cut

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education requested an increase of 7.7 percent — or an additional $76.3 million — for the next fiscal year, but the governor has called for a cut of nearly $50 million.
by Kathryn McNutt Published: March 16, 2014

Fallin supports a tax cut to stimulate the economy and help middle class families, spokesman Alex Weintz said.

“It’s a matter of timing and balance. Let’s don’t cut revenues when we have a $188 million deficit,” Boren said.

“If the tax cut is put off while revenue is down, and if a deal is made on the gross production tax ... I think something’s going to work out,” he said.

In her State of the State address last month, Fallin suggested agencies support critical programs and operation by tapping into revolving funds.

Chancellor Johnson said the universities and colleges’ revolving funds are cash flow accounts that hold money that is obligated for projects plus one month’s expenses, which the regents require institution set aside for emergencies.

“It’s not a fund we can use,” Boren said.

Keeping tuition down

Tuition and mandatory fees account for the biggest segment of the higher education budget — nearly 46 percent.

Higher education leaders don’t want to raise those to make up for a decrease in state funding.

“If it gets too high, the students aren’t going to come here,” Hargis said.

California has increased tuition and fees 30 percent two years in a row, he said.

Those costs in Oklahoma have increased an average of 4.6 percent the past five years.

“We want to keep those down. We have bucked the national trend,” Johnson said.

“The more money we provide, it takes the pressure off universities and colleges to keep tuition and fees down,” Rep. Wright said.

Wright said if the Legislature can find more money for higher education, he would like the increase to go to concurrent enrollment programs that allow juniors and seniors to start earning college credit while still in high school. It is mandated by state law.

The regents’ budget request includes $3 million to fully fund concurrent enrollment.

by Kathryn McNutt
Higher Education Reporter
Kathryn McNutt covers higher education for The Oklahoman and NewsOK. Since joining the staff in August 2000, she also has worked as the Breaking News editor, Metro editor and assistant Local editor. A native of Oklahoma City, she graduated from...
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It’s a matter of timing and balance. Let’s don’t cut revenues when we have a $188 million deficit.”

David Boren,
University of Oklahoma



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