The Oklahoman published an editorial Thursday about the state’s credit rating, but it omitted a major element of the current issue when it comes to the state’s finances.
— Yes For 779 (@YesFor779) June 14, 2016
To its credit, The Oklahoman did urge state leaders to “heed” the advice of credit rating agencies, which help determine the interest rates on bonds, but it failed to note that at least one of those agencies, Moody’s, gave the state a “negative outlook” mark because the legislature and governor recently slashed funding to higher education by nearly 16 percent.
The Oklahoman noted the credit agencies were concerned about the state’s unstable revenue stream and its use of one-time money to balance the budget, and it even mentioned the recent tax cuts that have contributed to the financial shortfall, but not a word on the financial demise of the state colleges and universities. NewsOK.com has published at least one story on the issue, but, again, the recent editorial omits this main part of the story.
It’s telling that it takes people outside the state to remind state leaders that it’s important to have a viable public university system. Sure, colleges and universities are raising tuition this fall, but those increases don’t cover all the costs of the cuts. This means teaching positions could remain unfilled and class sizes could grow. It could mean students can’t get the courses they need to graduate. There’s also a chance that some students here could get priced out of a college education altogether. This is in a state that already has a low college graduation rate compared to other states.
Universities and colleges across the country have faced a decline in taxpayer funding over years to the point that now some higher education institutions are practically “public” in name only. University of Oklahoma president David Boren has noted that the state share of financial support for OU and Oklahoma State University has dropped since the 1970s from 52 percent to 16 percent. Meanwhile, students have taken on massive and sometimes crippling loan debt in order to obtain a college degree.The system is not sustainable, and it’s happening around the country, and that’s why both Democratic presidential candidates have addressed it in the form of policy proposals and ideas.
Meanwhile, the fact The Oklahoman didn’t mention the concern over higher education funding is pretty much in keeping with the anti-education agenda of its editorial board so maybe the omission is not even worth remarking, but the larger issue is always worth stressing.
The larger issue is that an educated culture spends less money on fighting crime, incarcerating people and medical treatments. An educated culture also improves everyone’s quality of life because it seeks out the best in the arts. An educated culture provides a stable and intelligent work force for companies and has more money to spend.
It’s not hyperbole: Higher education remains the key element in Oklahoma’s future. It’s too bad our state leaders and the local newspaper don’t seem to care.
— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch) July 14, 2016