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September 17, 2003 :: State Regents Focus on Capital Improvement Needs in Workplan

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Despite the recent decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court to reject an appeal to restore $30 million in bond projects for the state’s public colleges and universities, higher education officials are still making plans to secure a dedicated funding source to help pay for capital improvements on the individual campuses.

During their regularly scheduled meeting recently, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education added an item to their 2003-2004 workplan that focuses on the need to identify an ongoing revenue source and to secure capital bond funding, all of which would help pay for capital improvements and an aging infrastructure within the state system of higher education.

The workplan is designed to inform the public as to the focus of the State Regents’ work as well as the philosophy underlying the board’s actions.

“In order to maintain a high-quality environment at our institutions, it is imperative that we find the necessary funding that pays for capital improvements and allows our colleges and universities to maintain their infrastructure,” Chancellor Paul G. Risser said.

Specifically, the State Regents added three components addressing capital needs of the state system:

Risser pointed out that funds used to pay for capital improvement within the state system come from many different sources and typically have restrictions placed on them. By being able to secure an ongoing revenue stream, colleges and universities would be able to concentrate more fully in providing students with a high quality education, Risser said.

In June, the state’s highest court struck down the $175 million bond issue passed by the 2000 Oklahoma Legislature that included the $30 million for capital projects within the state system. The court ruled that the bill did not properly identify the projects as required by the state constitution. Legislative leaders and higher education officials appealed the ruling, which justices rejected earlier this month.

In June, the State Regents identified more than $3 billion in capital funding needs for the state system, $1.2 billion of which will require state funding support.