Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Open Door Policy - August 26, 2008

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to hold an interim study on tuition and fee increases within our university system in Oklahoma. Due to time constraints, it was broken into two meetings, the second of which will conclude next Tuesday at the Capitol at 11 A.M. should you wish to attend.
It was stated by staff from the State Regents that 236,000 students are currently enrolled in the higher education system in Oklahoma. Numbers given by them show the amount for appropriations for financial aid is roughly $91 million for FY 2009, which comes out of our $7 billion budget. Roughly half the state budget currently goes to educational programs. This was an area the committee certainly felt needed to be addressed. We also saw that veterans and military personnel in combat situations are often affected by income caps placed on Oklahoma's Promise qualifications. Oklahoma's Promise is the program used to fund state assistance to students with income needs and who meet certain academic requirements. This was amended this past legislature to fund these scholarships before any other program can be given state dollars. We will be reviewing this since only tuition can be covered through this and no fees are allowed to be paid from this program.
Another event I had the opportunity to attend was the wrap-up breakfast of the Oklahoma State School Board Association and Cooperative Council of Oklahoma School Administration. Governor George Nigh was the speaker and discussed influences in his life and how important it is for educators to be the positive influence with their students. He also pointed out to not let the struggle for perfection interfere with the achievement of excellence. Too often we miss out on getting students to just reach the highest level of achievement possible with testing and other mandates.
This Monday, we had the opportunity to celebrate the grand opening of the first building associated with the BAE Systems-Fort Sill Industrial Park. This was a great day as Sen. Jim Inhofe and Lt. Governor Jari Askins attended the ceremony. Sen. Inhofe helped secure the funds to purchase the lands from the School Land Commission. Lt. Governor Askins helped us with getting the land up for sale at a negotiated rate for the development park. I spent about 13 months working on the sale of the land and I'm very glad to see this project progressing. The next phase will have a building of about 150,000 square feet used to construct the Non Line of Site (NLOS) Cannon.
I also had the opportunity to attend fundraisers for the Apache Sports Boosters Association, the American Cancer Society, and the Mid-America chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans Association of America. Each event was well-attended, but I have to brag a little on the MAPVA. With their first event, they doubled their expected amount of contributions and the credit goes to a great team effort. The event was organized by Ron Black of Wild Oklahoma radio and TV and it was greatly assisted by Rusty Goodman, a real estate agent out of Northeastern Oklahoma. I saw several constituents present and I appreciate their support and volunteer efforts for this important organization.
It is an honor to represent your views at the State Capitol. If you wish to contact me and discuss one of these or another issue, I can be reached at my office in Oklahoma City toll-free at 1-800-522-8502, or directly at 1-405-557-7305. My e-mail address is joedorman@okhouse.gov at work. My mailing address is PO Box 559, Rush Springs, OK 73082 and my website is http://www.joedorman.com/ on the Internet. Thank you for taking time to read this column and I look forward to seeing you soon.

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