The Norman Transcript

Opinion

December 11, 2012

Lawmakers will be hearing from education proponents

NORMAN — OU President David L. Boren has been more vocal in recent months about the state’s priority in funding for higher education and common schools. He spoke out in a Norman Magazine interview earlier this year. Last week, he spoke to his Board of Regents about the need to fund education.

OU’s proportion of funding that comes from the legislature has declined in recent years. The university has seen a $125 million decrease in funding since 2009. The university has raised tuition and fees accordingly, raised money in the private sector and has begun to rely on state and federal research and service contracts.

“We’re hoping this may be the year of education at the state Capitol,” Mr. Boren told OU Regents at their meeting this past week.

It’s a noble thought but lawmakers are being asked to replace lost funding in many areas and make up for an anticipated loss of federal dollars. Common schools are down more than $200 million, even before federal funds are figured in.

State regents plan to ask lawmakers for nearly $1.05 billion for fiscal 2014. That amount represents a nearly 9.5 percent or about $90.4 million increase over the current higher education appropriations. Mr. Boren told his regents that state funding currently covers about 14 percent of the OU budget, down from nearly 32 percent when he became president in November, 1994.

OU and OSU have shown some efforts at efficiencies in recent months. Lawmakers have also imposed some new measures that will force both institutions to be more energy conscious.

We saw something of a public groundswell with education proponents at the end of the past legislative session.

Perhaps that will carry over into the new session that begins in February.

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