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December 7, 2017 - State Regents Approve Budget Request, Legislative Agenda

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The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education voted Thursday to request $901.9 million for FY 2019, which reflects an increase of $128 million or 16.6 percent over the FY 2018 appropriation of $773.6 million.

Strengthening Oklahoma’s workforce pipeline through the Complete College America degree and certificate completion plan continues to be the state system of higher education’s highest priority. The State Regents are requesting $107 million for degree completion programs and initiatives. This investment will provide state colleges and universities funding to meet instruction and academic enterprise requirements and for institutional scholarships.

“Despite historic budget cuts of 22 percent over the last three years, our state system of higher education remains committed to strengthening Oklahoma’s economy and workforce by increasing college degree completion,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “The State Regents’ Task Force on the Future of Higher Education has affirmed that increasing degree attainment in our state must continue to be our top priority. While the additional funds requested would assist our public institutions’ efforts to meet Oklahoma’s degree completion benchmarks, we must acknowledge that the requested FY19 budget for the state system of higher education is still below FY07 funding levels.”

Increased funding for financial aid programs will also be a priority for the State Regents in the upcoming legislative session. The State Regents are seeking $18.4 million to restore scholarship programs, including Academic Scholars, the National Guard waiver, and the Regional University Baccalaureate Scholarship. The request will also fully fund the concurrent enrollment program, which provides tuition waivers to high school seniors who enroll in college coursework during their senior year. The State Regents are seeking $2.9 million to restore shared service programs provided in support of the colleges and universities, including database fees, subscriptions, legal services, and federal health and safety resources.

Another area of focus in the upcoming legislative session will be to maintain the current law regarding weapons on higher education campuses. Under current law, campus presidents have the discretion to grant exceptions to institutional policy when an exception is warranted. The State Regents and the presidents of all 25 state system institutions strongly believe that there is no scenario where expanding authorization to carry weapons on higher education campuses does anything other than create a more dangerous environment for our students, faculty, staff and visitors.

The State Regents will also continue efforts to preserve the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship as a college access and degree completion program. Recognized by many as America’s best early commitment program, Oklahoma’s Promise is considered a national model that combines emphases on academic preparation and financial support for college. More than 80,000 students have earned college tuition scholarships through Oklahoma’s Promise since the program’s inception in 1992.