Oklahoma ranks last nationally in total higher education revenues,
hampering the state's ability to attract prospective industry,
according to Sen. Robert Cullison, D-Skiatook, chairman of the
Oklahoma Senate Appropriations Committee.
"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
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
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
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
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). …