Legislator considering measure to restore tuition oversight

Friday, September 26th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A bill may be introduced to restore legislative oversight of tuition increases in higher education, a legislator says.

During the past session, lawmakers approved bills that allowed higher education officials to set tuition rates without legislative approval.

Rep. Joe Sweeten, D-Pawhuska, believes the Legislature should now revisit the issue.

After measures were passed in the state House of Representatives and the state Senate, many higher education institutions raised tuition significantly, Sweeten told an interim House committee on education Thursday.

Undergraduate tuition jumped 27.7 percent at the University of Oklahoma and 26.4 percent at Oklahoma State University, according to data provided to the committee by Higher Education Chancellor Paul Risser.

A bill to suspend legislative oversight passed 72-28 in the House but members are now having second thoughts, Sweeten said. The Senate passed similar legislation by a 32-9 vote.

In the past, the Legislature authorized tuition increases during non-election years.

Risser gave the House committee some other things to consider.

He said that despite increases in tuition, the state's higher education system saw a net loss of more than $37 million in funding.

He attributed the decline to increases in mandatory costs and a decrease in state appropriations.

Risser said funding for Oklahoma's higher education institutions are at the lowest level since 1998, while enrollment is at an all-time high.

According to the chancellor, 650 faculty and staff positions had to be eliminated and several programs cut because of the funding loss.

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