The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education today approved an additional $13.3 million in state-mandated cuts for FY2003. The cut reduces higher education’s original appropriation from approximately $851.3 million to $801.8 million, a $49.5 million reduction.
Lower-than-expected tax revenues through October precipitated the additional cut, which amounts to a 1.64 percent reduction in higher education’s FY2003 budget. The Office of State Finance also declared a revenue shortfall in September, which resulted in a $36.2 million or 4.34 percent cut for higher education.
“Given the state’s fiscal situation, state agencies across the board have been forced to make this additional cut to their budgets. We are doing everything that we can to minimize the impact on students, however,” Chancellor Hans Brisch said. “Nevertheless, many of our state institutions have already begun making further cuts into key areas that directly impact students. We expect to see fewer course offerings during the spring semester, and hiring freezes will mean that faculty who retire or resign will not be replaced.”
Just as they did during September’s cuts, the State Regents again spared allocations targeted for scholarship and financial aid programs, including the Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG) program, the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP) and Academic Scholars. Other programs spared from the cuts include payments for debt service to the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority, the Master Lease program and the Academic Library databases. Funding for these small line items has already been expended, Brisch said.
Institutions must now submit their revised budgets by December 12 to the State Regents who will, in turn, send them to the Office of State Finance by December 15.