It's the tax cuts, stupid 

Here’s their solution: “OCPA has recommended that the Regents for Higher Education’s budget be reduced $250 million” (“Countdown to the budget deal: Who’s irresponsible now?,” May 11). The “empirical evidence shows that state appropriations for higher education neither positively affect economic growth nor lead to a higher percentage of collegeeducated citizens. … In other words, cutting appropriations for higher education will not hamper economic growth nor will it lead to a less-educated workforce.” (“Oklahoma Higher Ed Needs Reform, Not More Taxpayer Money,” June 2).

Wow, let’s slash funding for higher education by 25 percent because OPCA’s hayseed economists proclaim it won’t harm economic growth. Personally, I think the bizarre claims of the OCPA are so stupid they drool on themselves, including the outright fabrication that we outspend Texas and Colorado.

The truth is that a college degree provides roughly $1 million in higher lifetime income versus people with just high school degrees, and universities play a key role in creating wealth and jobs, producing critical advances in locating and extracting energy resources, agricultural productivity, construction of buildings and roads, energy efficiency, engineering, aerospace, medical research, computer science, training of teachers, improved warning times for killer storms, etc. (Oops, I forgot to mention lawyers and economists). In the real world, we live in a knowledge-based economy where higher education is crucial.

Since 2001, the state’s contribution to student costs has plunged from 62 percent to 42 percent today, something the lousy right-wing media has covered up.

The reality is that Republicans (and faux Democrats like Brad Henry) have gutted state coffers with their tax cuts, but the OCPA insists that “At $16.6 billion, Oklahoma government spending is at an all-time high” (“Countdown to the budget deal,” May 11), conveniently omitting the fact that the spending growth is entirely due to rising federal grants for Medicaid, welfare, education and transportation, and that combined state and local spending in Oklahoma is 19 percent below the national per capita average, according to the Oklahoma Policy Institute.

Just like football, universities compete in academics, and when the state denies them the resources to do so, the only realistic option is to raise tuition, or lose. Blame the tax cuts.

D.W. Tiffee

Tiffee ran as an independent for U.S. Congress in 1994

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