The Norman Transcript

Opinion

December 22, 2012

Education, prisons, safetyfocus of governor’s budget

NORMAN — Oklahoma is one of the few states to project revenue growth for the next fiscal year. Most states are still suffering from the impact of the years-long recession.

The state this week certified expected revenue of about $7 billion. That’s up more than $200 million fro˙m fiscal year 2013 and doesn’t take into account any money set aside in the state’s rainy day fund.

Gov. Mary Fallin gave a hint of her budget priorities this week. She said education, prisons and public safety would be among her top priorities as she prepares a budget to present to lawmakers in February. She expressed concern to the Associated Press about the unsure nature of federal funding and the impact any cuts would have on the state.

State agencies are already making their case for additional revenue. Corrections and the Department of Public Safety are asking for additional funds to raise the salaries of prison guards and state troopers. Higher education is asking for an additional $90 million, much of it dedicated to support the governor’s initiative to increase the number of college degrees and professional certifications by 67 percent in ten years.

Regents chancellor Glen Johnson told a meeting of educators this week that college budgets have been reduced by 8.4 percent over the past five years. This year’s $1.046 billion request, is still less than the $1.05 billion allocated in 2008.

As state funding remains flat or declines, public universities and colleges in Oklahoma are growing more dependent on outside funds, federal grants and research contracts to meet growing overhead costs.

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