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June 23, 2006 :: State Regents Allocate Record Appropriations Throughout State System

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Pending final budget appropriations from state lawmakers and signature by Gov. Brad Henry, most of higher education’s $130 million in new state appropriations for fiscal year 2007 will be used to shore up the operating budgets of Oklahoma’s 25 public colleges and universities, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education announced during a special meeting today.

State colleges will receive $101 million of the new monies for FY2007, which is part of higher education’s record $1.019 billion appropriation for the next fiscal year. Regents had earlier requested $123 million in new funding for operations and programs; however, legislators agreed this week to fund higher education at the higher amount of $130 million.

The FY07 funding amount represents an increase of 14.6 percent over last year’s appropriation of more than $889 million.

Debt payments for capital bond issues will claim more than $15 million of the new funds, while $13.2 million will go toward strengthening and expanding several scholarship programs, including the Oklahoma’s Promise-OHLAP program, which will receive an infusion of an additional $10 million.

Higher education officials say the funding was needed due to increasing enrollments in Oklahoma’s Promise-OHLAP and to cover costs from expected tuition increases for 2006-07.

In addition to the Oklahoma’s Promise-OHLAP program, the Academic Scholars Program will see a $700,000 increase over last year, while $2.5 million will be used for tuition waivers for concurrently enrolled high school seniors.

As part of the $101 million in new state funds for institutions, the State Regents will allocate approximately $8.5 million more in base adjustments to institutions that have experienced unfunded student growth recently, as well as $4.6 million for the statewide nursing and allied health initiative. Through this initiative, colleges and universities hope to boost the number of nurses and allied health professionals employed in the state. The Governor’s Council for Workforce and Economic Development recently reported that the state will have a shortage of 4,500 health care workers by 2012 unless more is done to recruit and retain health care instructors and students.

The state’s new Adult Degree Completion Program will receive $500,000 of the new funding for FY07. Scheduled to be launched in January 2007, the program will allow working adults to earn a bachelor’s degree in 15 to 18 months.

The remaining new monies will be spread out among other programs, including $500,000 for the Teacher Residency Program and $300,000 for the Summer Academies in Math and Science. The funding increases will restore budgets for these programs that were previously cut in FY04.