The Edmond Sun

May 25, 2013

UCO waits to see its slice of budget pie

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Gov. Mary Fallin’s effort with legislative leaders to allocate $33 million of state money to higher education will be a restoration of money borrowed by the state to balance the state budget during the recession, said Steve Kreidler, executive vice president of the University of Central Oklahoma.

“We don’t get a share of that,” Kreidler said. “In other words, it doesn’t increase my budget. So what’s left is $9 million, and we won’t know until the last day of May how that money is going to be dispersed to the universities.”

Higher Education Chancellor Glen D. Johnson thanked Fallin and the Legislature for fully addressing the $23.9 million debt service needs related to the 2005 higher education bond issue.

“We also want to express our gratitude for the additional $9.3 million in funding to address the operational needs of the 25 colleges and universities in our state system,” Johnson said.

Higher education’s minimum budget needs exceed the final allocation, Johnson said.

Fallin negotiated the $7.2 billion budget with House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, and Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa. FY2014 state appropriations are at a 4.1 percent increase above FY2013.

The state appropriated $56 million to higher education for fiscal year 2008-09. This current fiscal year, colleges and universities received $53 million from the state.

“We’re down about $4 million from what we were receiving,” Kreidler said of UCO. “During that same time, UCO has added 1,500 students.”

There were 17,200 UCO students enrolled in the spring semester.

“We’re going to get some portion of that $9 million but we don’t know exactly how much,” Kreidler said.

His best forecast is that UCO will receive between $400,000 to $500,000. The university deals with budget cuts by becoming more lean, he said. UCO has been trying to bring more money in through its partnerships and ventures, Kreidler explained.

“We limit every cost that we can,” Kreidler said. “This year, we’ve got $3.3 million of mandatory cost increases. The biggest of that is health insurance.”

UCO has been conservative with expenditures by using reserve funds and not making new allocations, he said. | 341-2121