The Oklahoma State Senate passed a key plank of the 2008 Senate Democratic “Vision for Oklahoma” agenda that focuses on opportunity and responsibility. While Sen. Kenneth Corn’s original bill creating “Oklahoma’s Second Century Promise” was not heard before last week’s deadline for committee action, Corn successfully passed the legislation on Wednesday on the Senate floor after attaching the language as an amendment to another Senate Bill.
“This was simply too important to the future of our state—I am extremely pleased that the measure won overwhelming bipartisan support by the full Senate,” said Corn, D-Poteau. The measure cleared the Senate on a vote of 45 to 2.
Corn said the Second Century Promise will provide hope to kids who may not feel college is an option because of the cost, and gives Oklahoma an opportunity to move ahead of surrounding states in the number of college graduates—an effective economic development incentive that will help attract high paying jobs, grow Oklahoma’s economy and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans.
Corn’s legislation will enable many high school students currently ineligible for the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP) to qualify for scholarships that would help them complete their first two years of college. If they maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA during those first two years, they’ll receive additional scholarship funds to complete their bachelor degree.
The measure would also change income requirements to qualify for initial enrollment in the OHLAP program, changing the maximum amount allowable from $50,000 total income to $50,000 in taxable income. With Corn’s changes, about 75 percent of all high school students in the state would qualify for OHLAP.
Corn said the measure would have no fiscal impact in this coming fiscal year, and would cost approximately $13 million the following year, eventually hitting an average annual cost of $23 million.
“The second Century Promise complements OHLAP and will help us achieve our full potential as a state,” Corn said. “Investing in education is the single best investment we can make in our state’s future, and I am proud the Senate was able to take this crucial step in the right direct.”