"I've talked personally with companies that want to come here," Cullison said. "They love our climate, our work force, our labor-management relations. They like our extremely low utility rates, and they like our low taxes.
"And then the question always comes up: `What are you doing for education?' It's extremely hard to answer because we're not doing anything for it."
Oklahoma has traditionally ranked low in state appropriations for higher education, and that, coupled with the state's low tuition and fees, has helped to make Oklahoma one of the nation's lowest states in terms of total revenues for higher education.
During fiscal year 1984, Oklahoma ranked 38th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in appropriations per student ($3,123) and 51st in tuition and fees revenues per student ($579), putting Oklahoma 51st in the nation in total revenues per student ($4,152), according to the report "Higher Education Financing in the 50 States" compiled by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems of Boulder, Colo.
The 1984 report is the most recent report from the center, as it takes about three years to compile the data.
For the 1987-88 fiscal year, the Oklahoma Legislature appropriated $394.4 million for higher education, to go along with $124.9 million in anticipated revolving funds (mostly student fees and tuition).
That provided a total budget for higher education of $519.3 million, up 3.9 percent from an adjusted budget of $499.6 million in 1986-87.
The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education had asked for $470 million in state appropriations to go along with the anticipated revolving funds.
J.R. Morris, regents' professor at the University of Oklahoma, said poor funding for higher education in Oklahoma is a historical trend.
The one bright spot, Morris said, was during the oil boom, when increased funding for higher education became a priority. From 1977 to 1983, Oklahoma had the highest percentage of increase in funding for higher education in the nation.
"However," he noted, "the base was so low, that in 1983, when we started the cutbacks, we were still lowest in the nation in funding per student."
Here's a look at Oklahoma higher education budget figures according to the state regents' office:
- 1986-87 - $486.89 million originally budgeted, which was adjusted to $499.6 million (regents had taken back $12.76 million from 1985-86 in a forced carry over to 1986-87). …