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May 12, 2003 :: Cuts in Higher Education Will Do Long Term Damage To State’s Economy

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The Oklahoma State Regents of Higher Education have prepared an analysis that indicates that the long-term health of Oklahoma’s economy will be adversely affected by continued cuts in the higher education budget.

As the budget process continues in the Oklahoma Legislature, consideration is being given to cuts to higher education funding of about $80 million for next year. This follows cuts of $60 million this year.

As a result of the cuts, fewer courses will be offered, scholarships may be cut, libraries will buy fewer books, class sizes will increase, graduation times will increase, and needed student services such as healthcare, counseling, tutoring and job placement will be scaled back.

These outcomes as a result of budget cuts could have a profound long-term effect on the economy. If the number of bachelor’s degree graduates is reduced by as little as 1 percent for one year, the “ripple effect” on the economy could amount to a loss of $130 million in taxable income over the lifetime of these students who did not earn a college education

“Our state can’t afford to give back the gains we have made in recent years,” said Oklahoma higher education Chancellor Paul Risser. “Studies show us that an educated work force attracts new businesses and helps businesses that are already here to grow stronger. We have to join the other states that have found ways to sustain an ongoing commitment to higher education, even in tough economic times. These are the states that will remain competitive economically.”

How higher education powers economic prosperity

“Higher education helps power a state’s economy. Cutting the budget today will have a negative impact in the years to come,” said Risser. “It is our hope that this year’s cuts can be as small as possible and that the scholarships can be fully funded. Future generations of Oklahoma families could benefit if the legislature shows leadership in funding higher education.”