Governor Mary Fallin has issued a statement in support of the Oklahoma Higher Access Learning Program , which provides college scholarships to low and middle income students. Fallin responded to confusion about OHLAP and the FY 2015 budget agreement, which reduces money sent to an OHLAP revolving fund by $7.8 million to allow that money to be used elsewhere in the state budget.
“In order to balance the state’s budget and adequately fund core government services like public education, the Legislature and I agreed to a budget deal that sends $7.8 million that would otherwise go to OHLAP to other parts of the budget. Historically, monies available for OHLAP scholarships have carried an excess year-end cash balance of over $18 million after all scholarship obligations have been funded. The $7.8 million reduction should have no effect whatsoever on the number of college students receiving scholarships or the state’s ability to pay for them.
“The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education say they disagree the fund will be unaffected by this reduction. I take their warning seriously and have asked our budget staff to look into their concerns. While we review OHLAP’s finances, the Board of Equalization will delay action on final certification of revenue for Fiscal Year 2015.
“The state of Oklahoma will not allow the OHLAP fund to run out of money. Funding these scholarships is the legal duty of our elected officials as well as good policy. No students will lose scholarship opportunities because of this year’s budget agreement.”
The Board of Equalization meeting originally scheduled for Monday, June 16th will be postponed to a later date.