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Chancellor hopes to restore education funding in targeted areas


Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Chancellor Glen D. Johnson, left, visits with State Rep. Avery Frix, right, during a presentation of higher education goals, Friday afternoon at Northeastern State University. Between them are NSU President Dr. Steve Turner and Mayor Bob Coburn.

Staff photo by Cathy Spaulding

A requested 16 percent funding boost will not help Oklahoma colleges recover funding lost over the past three years, higher education officials said.

However, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Chancellor Glen D. Johnson said regents will stick to their goals.

Johnson discussed the OSRHE 2018 legislative agenda with legislators and college officials during a Friday stop at Northeastern State University’s Muskogee campus.

Johnson said Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities need nearly $902 million in state funding for the 2019 fiscal year. That’s up $128 million, or 16.6 percent, from the 2018 appropriation of $773 million.


Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE) Chancellor Glen D. Johnson presents higher education legislative goals during a Muskogee visit. He said the regents have a budget need of $901 million.

Staff photo by Cathy Spaulding

“That’s less than half of what our budget cut has been for the last three years,” Johnson said. “Over the past three years, higher education has been cut over $250 million. Our request is not to restore that completely, but to restore funding in targeted areas.”

Johnson said regents will focus on three major initiatives:

1. Produce more college graduates.

2. Increase access to higher education.

3. Better prepare students to succeed in a global economy.

Johnson referred to a study by Georgetown University, saying that within two years, 67 percent of Oklahoma jobs will require at least some college, a long-term certificate or college degree.

“That’s on us,” he said. “To do that we’ve got to have enough funding to put the faculty into the classroom.”

Area legislators said getting the funding will be a challenge.

Sen. Dewayne Pemberton said revenue is keeping legislators from meeting that challenge. 

“We’re continuing to fight and trying to find out how the state can fund common ed, higher ed, all our core services,” Pemberton said. “To do that, we’re going to need hundreds of millions of dollars of new revenue. Right now, we’re looking at a $425 million, $450 million shortfall. “

Pemberton said he hoped for passage of the Step Up package, which he said could raise $750 million. He said the package faces stronger opposition in the House than the Senate.

State Rep. Avery Frix seemed more optimistic.

“In December, our revenue was 11 percent above what we projected our revenue would be at,” Frix said. “In Dec. 2015, we were 6 or 7 percent below our projections. So our revenue is improving, our economy’s on the rebound.”

Frix said he would like more of the state appropriation to go to regional universities and junior colleges.

“They seem to get proportionately lower share of the funding,” he said.

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