The state's college completion goals will make up the largest part of the agency's legislative agenda next year, Johnson said. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has called for a 67 percent increase in college degrees and certificates earned in Oklahoma by 2023.
As important as that goal is, Johnson said, it can't be accomplished without more funding. Oklahoma's efforts have already been recognized as a national model by nonprofit Complete College America. But other states, including Georgia, have designated funding for their completion initiatives — something Oklahoma lawmakers haven't yet done.
This year's higher education budget comes to $955.26 million allocation — essentially the same amount the system received during the last fiscal year. That includes $10 million the system received as supplemental funding during fiscal year 2011, but was then included as a part of the annual base appropriation.
That amount is $34.7 million less than Johnson requested in a budget proposal last year. Of that amount, $27.8 million would have gone toward mandatory cost increases, such as rising insurance premiums and utility costs.