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Oklahoma higher education system requests $97.4 million budget increase

by Silas Allen Modified: January 28, 2013 at 10:13 pm •  Published: January 29, 2013

Oklahoma higher education Chancellor Glen Johnson on Monday asked lawmakers for a 10.2 percent increase in next year's higher education budget.

That increase would bring the total higher education appropriation for the 2013-14 fiscal year to $1.05 billion, which is a $97.4 million increase over the current fiscal year. The request was made during a joint legislative budget committee hearing at the state Capitol.

The largest share of that increase — $55 million — would go toward the state's performance and college completion goals. That figure would cover a number of areas, including increased costs colleges and universities have seen due to enrollment increases, Johnson said.

The higher education system has added more than 14,000 students over the past four years. Those increases have meant an additional $4.7 million spent in financial aid, 77 additional faculty members and about 600 new course sections at schools across the state.

The enrollment increase also created greater need for IT equipment and library purchases, Johnson said.

The amount Johnson requested Monday represented $7 million more than higher education officials proposed a month ago. Johnson said the difference comes from new numbers the State Regents office received regarding payments on the 2005 Higher Education Capital Bond Issue.

The bond issue, which was passed in 2005, was refinanced in 2010 as a part of a series of cost-cutting measures that took place at the height of the recession.

The upcoming fiscal year marks the first year since then that the agency has made a payment against both the principle and the interest, said Amanda Paliotta, vice chancellor for budget and finance. For the past two years, she said, the agency was only responsible for an interest payment.

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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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