Although he agrees there are serious capital needs at Oklahoma colleges and universities, State Senator Jeff Rabon said he has reservations about the idea of using revenues from the new state lottery to pay for a $500 million bond issue to fund those projects.
“First of all, I think when most Oklahomans voted for an education lottery, they were thinking those dollars would go directly into the classrooms of their children’s public schools. I don’t remember anything about using those proceeds to pay for a higher education bond issue,” said Rabon, D-Hugo.
“Not only that, but what if a future legislature decides they don’t want to spend the lottery proceeds that way? That’s why I think everyone needs to exercise a lot of caution before any final decisions are made.”
It has been estimated that the cost for retiring the debt would be about $30 million a year for 25 years.
“My own children will be grown and have kids of their own before we can pay this thing off—that’s something we need to consider very carefully.”
Sen. Rabon said he also felt that since The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University would receive 46 percent of the money, it would be appropriate for them to help pay for a portion of the cost to retire the bond debt.
“Perhaps they could look at an assessment based on a per-pupil amount. I do think it is fair that OU and OSU should be asked to contribute since they are getting such large pieces of that pie,” Rabon said. “The bottom line is that every available option needs to be examined before any commitment is made.”