Sen. Kenneth Corn on Wednesday filed legislation that could lead to changes in the way the state of Oklahoma provides matching funds for endowed chairs at colleges and universities.
Since 2004, the state has issued revenue bonds to provide matching funds for endowed chairs. Senate Bill 1142 would establish a permanent funding source for endowed chairs by diverting a portion of casino gaming revenues to the Oklahoma State Regents Endowment Trust Fund.
Corn said the establishment of a permanent funding source is sound fiscal policy that would represent a strong commitment to improving higher education in Oklahoma.
In our effort to establish Oklahoma as a research hub in the Midwest, providing a permanent funding source for endowed faculty must be a priority, said Corn, D-Poteau. A permanent funding source will help draw better researchers and educators to our colleges and universities, while getting the Legislature out of the business of issuing bonds to provide matching funds.
Corns plan would apportion 12 percent of revenues from casino gaming to establish a permanent funding source. Corn estimated that between $9 and $11 million annually would be needed to cover the cost of matching funds.
Endowed chairs not only conduct research that can benefit our state and nation, but they also help draw the best and brightest students into our universities, Corn said. Establishing a permanent funding source to provide funds for endowed chairs represents an investment in the future of Oklahoma. Our university presidents and private donors have done an admirable job of securing funding, and its time for the Legislature to hold up our end of the bargain.