NORMAN — OU President David Boren is again sounding the alarm against proposed cuts in the state’s income tax rate and reductions in agency funding. Mr. Boren feels so strongly about the issue that he personally bought advertisements in state newspapers this past weekend.
It comes as lawmakers begin wrestling with a state revenue picture that is estimated to be $170 million less than the previous year. Under the governor’s plan, higher education and other state agencies would have their funding reduced by about five percent.
He says an income tax cut would provide significant benefit only to the wealthiest one percent of the state. Sixty percent of Oklahoma taxpayers would receive approximately $2.50 per month in tax relief.
Mr. Boren shouldn’t be alone in raising the red flag. Other college and university presidents should be standing with him in rallying constituents and legislators. Higher education statewide has been challenged to produce more college graduates and to gain some efficiencies.
OU’s share of public funding has dropped by around 10 percent since 2008. In a Tulsa World interview, Mr. Boren said in the 1970s the state government funded nearly half of OU’s budget. It was about 32 percent when Mr. Boren took office in 1994 and will drop to 15 percent if the current budget cuts are approved by lawmakers.
Cuts in state funding often result in higher tuition and fees making OU and other institutions less affordable to Oklahomans. “It’s getting so we don’t have public education anymore,” Mr. Boren told the Tulsa World. “We’re privatizing and it’s more expensive to get a private education.”
We hope our local legislators will step forward, embrace Mr. Boren’s concerns and spread the message throughout the legislature.
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