FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Ray Carter, House Media
Capitol: (405) 557-7421
Contact: State Rep. Ryan Kiesel
Capitol: (405) 557-7372
Kiesel Continues Fight For Higher Education
OKLAHOMA CITY (May 25, 2007) – An effort by state Rep. Ryan Kiesel to increase funding for Oklahoma’s two-year and regional colleges was defeated this week, but he vowed to continue the fight.
"I am in complete support of our two comprehensive universities in Norman and Stillwater, but the fact remains that the vast majority of college students in Oklahoma attend regional and two year institutions. We need to ensure that in our efforts to help the two big universities, we don’t overlook the need to invest in the students and communities who depend on the 23 regional and two year schools," said Kiesel, D-Seminole.
House Bill 1105, which passed out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives late Thursday, contained funding for capital improvement projects at Oklahoma colleges. However, the lion’s share of that funding went to just the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University – the other 23 colleges and universities in the state were left "to fight over crumbs," Kiesel noted.
Kiesel, whose district includes Seminole State College, filed instructions to return the bill to conference committee where language could be added providing a more equitable distribution of state funding. Under Kiesel’s plan, one-fourth of the capital project money would have gone to OU, another quarter would have gone to OSU, another fourth would go to Oklahoma’s regional colleges, and the remaining 25 percent would go to the state’s two-year colleges.
That change would have increased the amount given two-year and regional institutions for construction needs by $2.75 million dollars.
"This is not about increasing appropriations; it is about dividing the agreed-upon funding in an equitable manner," Kiesel said.
However, the majority of the House voted to reject Kiesel’s proposal.
Under the plan approved by the House, the 23 two year and regional colleges and universities will share $5.5 million, which is about $239,000 per institution. The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University will receive $5.5 million each.
The Seminole Democrat said lawmakers are making a mistake by shortchanging the state two-year and regional colleges, noting that the state’s two-year colleges alone enroll 54 percent of students in Oklahoma and vowed to continue his effort to ensure adequate and equitable investments that give every Oklahoman the ability to realize the benefits of Higher Education.