Hamilton Tells Brisch Higher Education Must Cut Costs

Article excerpt

Colleges and universities should increase their instructors' workload, decrease their overhead and cease demanding more money from the state, the Oklahoma House of Representatives appropriations chairman said Wednesday.

Rep. James Hamilton tried to deliver what he meant as a budget-cutting 1990s wake-up call to Higher Education Chancellor Hans Brisch.

"The public is demanding we downsize government," Hamilton said after taking Brisch to task in a meeting of an appropriations subcommittee on education. "Higher education needs to be a part of that downsizing."

Brisch and state regents have asked for an $87.9 million increase on the $556.4 million higher education received last year. In reality, higher education is hoping for enough money to maintain operations at about their current level, Brisch conceded.

"Even though we asked for $87 million, we know in this environment it's not there," Brisch said.

Hamilton, D-Poteau, told Brisch that Gov. David Walters' optimistic budget projections for higher education are based on the presumptions that voters will pass a state lottery and legislators will raise tuition, and don't take into account a tax lawsuit that threatens to force the state to repay millions of dollars to federal retirees.

Hamilton said higher education officials need to cope with the tight budget by demanding their professors spend more time in the classroom and less on sabbaticals, which he said cost the state $3. …