Working together

Kansas higher education officials might take note of the University of Oklahoma president’s strategy for improving state funding.

June 30, 2011


The conversation about higher education funding in Oklahoma seems to have a different tone than it has in Kansas.

After the regents at the University of Oklahoma approved a 5 percent tuition increase at the school last week, the Associated Press reported comments by OU President David Boren. Like most university leaders, Boren said his school had done its best to avoid tuition increases, but after absorbing about $80 million in fixed-costs increases in the last three years, “it’s just impossible to do something with nothing.”

However, rather than point fingers at state lawmakers for the school’s funding woes, as many in Kansas have done, Boren took a different tack. He thanked Gov. Mary Fallin and Republican leaders in the state legislature for their concern and for having an “open door” to listen to his request for more funding.

Then, he went a step further. “I know that as the economy continues to recover, they’ll do all that they can to help us sort of dig back out of the hole,” Boren said, “and hopefully over the next couple of years get back to not where we would like to be but just get back to where we were in 2008 because we’re a long way from where we were at that time.”

It is, perhaps, useful to note that Boren is well acquainted with the politics of government funding. Before he became OU president, he served as a state legislator, Oklahoma’s governor and a U.S. senator. Apparently, he believes spreading some sugar is the best way to attract more support for additional state funding.

It is also important to note that OU and Oklahoma State University still will have the lowest tuition rates in the Big 12 Conference. Even with the 5 percent increase, Oklahoma students will pay $7,124 per year to attend OU, compared to the $8,364 Kansas freshmen entering KU this fall will pay as part of their tuition “compact.” KU officials often say their school continues to be a bargain compared to its peers, but Oklahoma apparently is an even greater bargain.

Public universities across the country are hurting, but Boren’s strategy for dealing with state lawmakers is interesting. It’s hard to know whether the gratitude he expresses to state legislators and his confidence that they will step up with increased funding in the future are completely sincere or more of a tactic to win political favor.

It seems clear, however, that higher education leaders and state lawmakers working as a team is the best way to improve funding and reduce tuition increases. It’s a relationship that both higher education and legislative leaders in Kansas should try to cultivate.


somedude20 2 years, 9 months ago

Kansas has many faults as does Lawrence however, I would gladly pay the extra $1240 a semester to NOT have to live in Oklahoma.


woodlawn 2 years, 9 months ago

Perhaps the publisher of the local paper in Norman, OK is supportive of the home school. Helps.


PaladKik 2 years, 9 months ago

But up until recently, most of the mainstream media seem to be missing this. They're fascinated with the rallies, protests, political strategies and senators gone awol, but fail to see how this can seriously affect all Americans. Not only today, but generations down the road.

It's no wonder gold is at an all time high, people are starting to stock pile food in their homes, and the dollar has lost more than 500% of its value since 2001.

Will the Fed once again ignore the will of the American people and bailout the states? Nobody knows for sure. But as in investor, I'm not losing any sleep over it. And neither should you. Let me explain.

Don't Lose Another Wink of Sleep Over Unrest in the World Today.

Unrest in Wisconsin, monster deficits and states on the edge of bankruptcy are just the tip of the iceberg.

We recently warned you that continuing turmoil in the Middle East could soon lead to oil prices hitting $200 a barrel. That means you could be paying as much as $10 a gallon at the pump.

While that may sound far-fetched, so did the prediction of gold prices hitting $1,000 when just a short time ago it was trading at $350.

Arab Spring

A New Wave of Rage in Cairo Clashes between anti-regime demonstrators and Egyptian security forces erupted again in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Tuesday night and continued through the following morning. Although exact numbers are unconfirmed, Reuters reported that more than 1,000 people were injured in the incident. A leading pro-democracy activist group is now calling on supporters to return to the square early Thursday morning with tents and reenact the sit-ins that took place in January and February. The military has not said how it will respond but it will likely find a way to effectively handle this resurgence of unrest, triggered in large part by political divisions within the Egyptian opposition.


PaladKik 2 years, 9 months ago

Schaeffer says

The debt crisis in America is spreading. It's becoming insurmountable.

At last count, 43 states are staring at monster budget deficits.

This spring New-York Governor Cuomo released a statement saying the state is "functionally bankrupt." The projected budget shortfall? A mere $9 billion for fiscal year 2010.

It's no better across the Hudson. The state of New Jersey recently revealed that its unfunded pension liability for state government employees reached a record $54 billion. An 18% increase from the prior year.

It's been reported that state and local governments have more than $2.8 trillion of outstanding debt. In addition they are carrying approximately $3 trillion of unfunded public pension and health care liabilities.

Up until this year they solved the problem by borrowing more, refinancing their debt, and then incurring new debt to cover out of control pension and health care benefits for public employees.

But it looks like the party is about to end. The well has dried up.

Governors in states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, and in many other Republican held states are slashing budgets like never before.

What's happening in our country today is unprecedented. You have to go all the way back to the civil war to find a time when this many states defaulted on their debt obligations.

And even during the Great Depression in the early thirties, only the state of Arkansas defaulted on its debt!

So it appears the day of reckoning has finally arrived for states teetering on the edge of bankruptcy right? Well, maybe not.

Recent Rumblings Coming out of Washington May Anger You.

Word is already starting to spread that states may consider bankruptcy as a way to wiggle out of their mess. They believe the Fed will bail them out as they are "too big to fail." Just like the banks, GM, Fannie and Freddie.

In other words, you could be picking up the tab again!

But where is the money going to come from? Today our national debt is more than $14.3 trillion.

The Fed already holds more than $1 trillion dollars of U.S. treasuries - €”that's more than 70% of all outstanding debt - €”making it the largest lender to the U.S. in the world.

No it's not China anymore. Heck, they've wised up and don't really have our best interests at heart anyway.

For every dollar the government spends about 50 cents of it is borrowed! Our debt is about 500 times larger than the size of our economy. That's the real story.


scott3460 2 years, 9 months ago

Kansas should emulate Oklahoma, huh?

I don't know of a single person of intelligence who thinks that.


Phillbert 2 years, 9 months ago

This is the same delusional thinking that Dolph had in his Saturday Column - that if the Regents say "Pretty, pretty please" the Republicans the LJW told everyone to vote for will suddenly decide to raise taxes so they could spend more. Get real.


question4u 2 years, 9 months ago

“'I know that as the economy continues to recover, they’ll do all that they can to help us sort of dig back out of the hole,” Boren said.'"

If he believes that, then of course he has a reason not to "point fingers." But does anyone have any reason to believe anything similar about the Kansas Legislature? It would be interesting to hear whether there have been any legislators who have actually said that they would "do all that they can" to restore funding when that becomes possible. Unless there is some indication that they would, any president of a university in Kansas would just look foolish saying that he or she believes that the legislature will help them "dig back out of the hole", especially since proposals were made in the Legislature to make cuts to universities effectively permanent by directing all future surpluses in the budget to cutting taxes, not to restoring programs. On what planet does that help dig universities out of a hole?

"Apparently, he believes spreading some sugar is the best way to attract more support for additional state funding."

Are state legislators really that vain in Oklahoma? Do they really make funding decisions based on what a university president might say to flatter them or offend them instead of considering the benefits of investment in higher education and, most important, the good of the students of Oklahoma?

What a president says or doesn't say about the legislature 's likelihood of restoring funding shouldn't have anything to do with the decisions that legislators make, unless those legislators are petty, shallow and easily swayed by flattery or perceived insults. The suggestion that such a strategy might work in Kansas entails a definite opinion about the integrity of the Kansas Legislature. Is it really that bad?


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