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OU President David Boren: Proposed higher education budget will hurt Oklahoma

BY DAVID BOREN Modified: February 17, 2014 at 1:00 pm •  Published: February 15, 2014

Oklahomans need a wake-up call. Their future is at risk. The budget now before the Legislature will put us on the wrong path.

It’s time we asked ourselves some basic questions: Who are we as a people? What kind of state do we want? What kind of state do we want to pass on to our children and grandchildren?

A few months ago, state government asked businessmen and women across Oklahoma a question: What will bring higher-paying jobs and more investment to Oklahoma? The resounding answer was: Invest more in achieving excellence in education.

Is the state investing its resources in this critical area? No! We rank near the bottom nationally in what we invest in education. We spend less on schools and colleges and universities than we did in 2008. Under the proposed budget, we will continue to invest less in education per student than any of the states that surround us — Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Arkansas, Missouri and New Mexico.

The OU Health Sciences Center is a large part of the Oklahoma Health Center, which has Oklahoma City’s second-largest concentration of jobs, next to Tinker Air Force Base. Yet the OU medical school gets only 7 percent of its funding from the state; the proposed budget cuts it more.

Can we afford another tax cut when we can’t give one without cutting vital services? Not only schools and colleges are damaged. What about bridges such as the one being closed between Lexington and Purcell? What about overcrowded prisons that are ticking time bombs?

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