Education Agencies and Services

Education Agencies and Services

The largest state appropriation goes to the State Department of Education. It receives more than one-third (35.8 percent) of total state appropriations in FY 2017. Of the agency’s total FY 2017 appropriation of $2.427 billion, 77.1 percent ($1.870 billion) takes the form of state aid funding that goes directly to local school districts through a complex formula that considers the number of students and factors – including poverty, English-language learners, and the need for transportation and special education services – that make educating some students more costly (See this blog post for more on the school funding formula). In addition to formula funding, the State Department of Education appropriation includes funding for “programs and activities” that is used for teacher and support staff health care coverage, a portion of retirement costs, textbooks, alternative education, advance placement education, early childhood education, reading instruction, and several other uses.

At the local level, school districts supplement state appropriations (51 percent of all school funding in FY 2014) with property taxes and other local funding (28 percent), state tax revenues dedicated for education (11 percent), and federal funds (10 percent). Since 2001 the state share of all education costs has fallen from 59 to 51 percent, and the local share has risen from 22 to 29 percent.

Higher Education is the third largest state agency by appropriation at $810 million in FY 2017, which is 16 percent below the prior year. Over the last six years, agency appropriations have fallen by 20 percent while the overall state budget was nearly identical in FY 2011 and FY 2017. The Constitution prohibits the Legislature from appropriating funds to specific campuses. The allocation among the 25 colleges and universities is made annually by the Regents for Higher Education from a lump sum appropriation by the Legislature. The largest allocations for FY 2016 were:

  • University of Oklahoma (includes all campuses and OU Health Science Center)–$198 million;
  • Oklahoma State University (includes all campuses and OSU Center for Health Sciences)–$196 million;
  • University of Central Oklahoma–$43 million; and
  • Northeastern State University – $30 million.

In addition to money allocated to institutions, a portion of higher education funding went to debt service payments ($59 million in FY 2017), financial aid programs ($31 million), endowed chair program ($10 million) and other functions. Funding for the Oklahoma Promise scholarship program – $68 million in FY 2017 – is allocated directly to a dedicated fund out of income tax collections and is not considered part of legislative appropriations.

State appropriations (36 percent) and tuition and fees (48 percent) funded most spending for Oklahoma higher education in FY 2016. From 2007 to 2016, the share of appropriated funds has decreased from 51 percent to 36 percent, while tuition and fees have grown from 36 percent to 48 percent of spending. Tuition and most other non-appropriated funds stay at the campus that collects them.

Career and Technical Education is the other large appropriated education agency. The $118 million FY 2017 appropriation helps provide courses for over 500,000 students at 59 technology centers and in almost 400 school districts. State appropriations in FY 2017 are 10 percent below what they were in FY 2010. About seventy-five percent of funding for career and technology centers comes through local property taxes.

Eight other education agencies received about $45 million in total appropriations for FY 2017. The largest are:

  • The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST), which provides funding for research based on Oklahoma campuses ($14 million in FY 2017);
  • The Commissioners of the Land Office, which manages lands held in trust for education purposes ($9 million); this agency spends an additional $50 million in earnings from school lands to education agencies.
  • The Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, an intensive and selective high school that services students from across the state ($3 million);
  • The State Department of Libraries, which operates state libraries and provides grants to local library systems ($5 million); and
  • The Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA), which operates television stations across the state, broadcasting Public Broadcasting Services and local programming ($3 million).

Most of the major education agencies receive appropriations. The largest also receive substantial funding from federal and revolving funds. However, a few important state education agencies operate without appropriations.

  • The Oklahoma Lottery Commission, which operates the lottery authorized by voters in 2004. In FY 2015 this agency collected $172 million from ticket sales and other revenues. Forty-five percent of collections (approximately $75 million) are reserved for prizes and twenty percent (approximately $35 million) for the costs of running the lottery. The remaining 35 percent (approximately $60 million for FY 2015) is restricted to various education uses (For more information, see this OK Policy fact sheet on the Oklahoma Education Lottery)
  • The Oklahoma Student Loan Authority, which borrows funds by issuing bonds and loans the proceeds to eligible students in Oklahoma higher education institutions. In FY 2015 this agency spent $15 million.
  • The Oklahoma College Savings Plan allows families to save for college education while avoiding some federal and state income taxes. Expenses of the plan manager and all other operations are paid from the investment earnings of the plan.

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