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September 12, 2003 :: State Regents Allocate ‘One-time’ Funds to Colleges and Programs

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All of Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities and some higher education programs whose budgets were either cut or suspended earlier this year because of revenue shortfalls are receiving some additional funding for this budget year.

Today during the regularly scheduled meeting of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, State Regents approved a one-time allocation of nearly $8.7 million toward the institutions and the programs affected by last May’s cuts. The additional funds became available from the Office of State Finance after June revenue collections for the state exceeded projections.

Higher education officials say the funds are a welcomed relief, especially in light of increasing enrollments and shrinking budgets the state system has experienced lately.

“Having these funds – even if its just one-time money – will go a long way in helping the institutions and programs adjust to the very painful cuts they received last May,” Chancellor Paul G. Risser said. “We are hopeful that the state’s revenue picture will continue to improve so that our state system can continue its mission of providing all Oklahomans with a quality education that is absolutely necessary in this knowledge-based economy.”

More than $5.7 million of the carryover funds will go toward lowering the overall budget reductions that institutions are seeing this fiscal year. Institutional appropriations were reduced 9.99 percent at the beginning of the current fiscal year; however, following today’s action, reductions will be 9.2 percent. The larger portion of the new funds went to the institutions because of mandatory cost increases in health insurance, risk management and other items, officials said.

The remaining $3 million in carryover funds will help partially restore the budgets of several higher education programs that State Regents were either forced to cut or suspend this fiscal year. The cuts were a result of higher education receiving nearly 10 percent less in state appropriations this year compared with last year.

Programs receiving the one-time allocation include the Teacher Residency Program, $1.3 million; Fire Service Training Program, $465,000; Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, $200,000; Pollard Theater/Langston University, $130,000; Summer Academies in Math and Science, $300,000; and several State Regents’ grant programs, $150,000.

Officials said that the one-time allocation to the Fire Training Service Program will allow time for administrators to find additional sources of revenue and to examine efficiencies within the program itself. The additional funding for the Performing Arts Program, which earlier had been eliminated and the program support suspended for one year, will provide time for Pollard Theater management to seek other sources of funding.

Also included in the $3 million is $110,000 to Quartz Mountain Resort and Conference Center to help pay for capital improvements and $50,000 to the State Regents’ office, which will help address increases in mandatory costs within the agency.