2011 Legislative Agenda
Challenges and Opportunities
In each of the last three semesters, historic numbers of Oklahomans have enrolled in our public colleges and universities. Fall enrollment has increased by 16,077 students since 2008. This sustained growth in enrollment represents a tremendous challenge and opportunity for our state system of higher education.
Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities continue to provide a high-quality education while working hard to retain current students and conferring a record number of degrees. All of this is being done at a time of shrinking budgets and tightened belts. Our colleges and universities are doing their part and have identified $112.3 million in actual or projected savings from 2009-12.
These savings have been achieved through energy conservation and technology conversion, changes in salaries and benefits, elimination of positions, reductions in supplies and IT expenditures, and other efficiencies.
In addition to belt tightening, our institutions continue to seek other revenue sources through grant programs, which resulted in $506 million in competitive grants in 2010.
Record enrollments on our campuses present an excellent opportunity – turning college students into college graduates and continuing the upward trend in the number of degrees conferred. Having more degree holders in the state better positions Oklahoma to retain and attract higher-paying jobs. To meet the challenges and claim the opportunities, we must continue to invest in higher education.
2011 Legislative Agenda
- Endowed Chairs Program – This is a highly successful public/private partnership that involves 21 institutions and branch campuses. State funds match private donations and are used to recruit and retain faculty, develop new programs and sponsor lectureships. The State Regents are requesting funding for bond payments to clear the current $267 million backlog.
- Concealed Weapons Legislation – During the past three legislative sessions, efforts have been made to force campuses to allow concealed weapons on college property. The State Regents, all 25 institutions and governing boards will continue to oppose any efforts to change current Oklahoma law.
- Oklahoma’s Promise – Oklahoma’s Promise students make better grades in high school, attend and graduate from college, and stay in the state after graduating in greater numbers than non-Oklahoma’s Promise students. The State Regents oppose any legislation that would reduce the number of students eligible for this nationally recognized program and change its current focus on access.
- Tuition-Setting Authority – Despite record enrollments and budget challenges, Oklahoma is still nationally considered a "low tuition" state and is consistently well below the peer limits established by the Legislature in 2003. Our institutions continue to stretch their financial resources and increase financial aid because they are in the best position to truly understand the overall needs of their students. The State Regents support maintaining tuition-setting authority.
- Consolidation of State Services – The state system has a proven track record of cost savings, economic efficiencies and caps on administrative spending and is committed to considering new approaches that would result in savings. However, the State Regents will oppose any one-size-fits-all mandated consolidations of state services that would hinder our colleges’ and universities’ ability to function efficiently while ensuring a quality education.
FY 2012 Appropriations Request
It is vital that the FY 2012 budget continues to focus on the value of supporting higher education and differentiate higher ed in annual appropriations. Key elements to this approach are to replace the $59.8 million of stimulus funding and the $16.5 million debt service reduction.
As mandatory costs continue to increase (especially health care expenses) and demand for on-campus services continues to grow, the need for additional funding to meet operational obligations has never been greater.
Economic Recovery and Growth
Replacement of FY 11 Stimulus Funds: $59,794,986
Replacement of FY 11 Debt Service Reduction to Be Used for Institutional Operations: $16,500,000
Total Funding Need for Operating Obligations: $30,938,170
Endowed Chair Bond Issue Debt Service: $5,600,000
Section 13 Offset: $618,150
Removal of Financial Barriers
Concurrent Enrollment: $1,500,000
Academic Scholars: $600,000
Office of Accountability: $48,014
Total New FY 12 State Funds: $115,599,320
% Difference from Total FY 11 Appropriation: 5.56%
FY 12 Total With Oklahoma’s Promise Allocation ($63.2m): $1,122,465,350
- The state system of higher education has developed cost-saving initiatives that will result in actual and projected savings totaling $112.3 million from 2009-12.
- Fall enrollment has increased by 16,077 students since 2008.
- Higher education has an impact on Oklahoma’s economy of more than $3.2 billion each year.
Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
Glen D. Johnson, Chancellor
Hollye Hunt, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Governmental Relations