Higher Education

Jonathan Small | June 22, 2017

A public letter to President Boren and President Betz

Jonathan Small

Today, OCPA President Jonathan Small sent the following letter to OU President David Boren and UCO President Don Betz.

Dear Sirs:

A recent news story claimed Oklahoma is “dead last in the nation when it comes to state tax support for higher education,” and quoted Mr. Betz saying, “We’ve been flirting with that ranking for some time.”

A subsequent story quoted Mr. Boren: “Now we’re officially dead last (nationally) in what we spend as a state in higher education.”

As you’re perhaps aware by now—The Oklahoman printed a “clarification” today—our state is not “dead last” or at “the very bottom” when it comes to funding higher education. Your statements, if reported accurately, are a departure from the facts.

An examination of the study cited in these reports shows the following:

Oklahoma ranks 31st in raw dollars of state support for higher education. Put simply, Oklahoma provides more support than 19 states.

The study ranks Oklahoma 38th on a per capita basis and 34th based on income for state support to higher education.

None of this data considers differences between the states in cost of living. On that basis, Oklahoma would rank right near the middle of the pack at 28th for total state support to higher education.

No matter how you look at the data, your claims that Oklahoma is “dead last in what we spend as a state in higher education” are simply false. With this information now available to you, I respectfully ask that you issue a correction.


Jonathan Small

Jonathan Small President

Jonathan Small


Jonathan Small, C.P.A., serves as President and joined the staff in December of 2010. Previously, Jonathan served as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma Office of State Finance, as a fiscal policy analyst and research analyst for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and as director of government affairs for the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Small’s work includes co-authoring “Economics 101” with Dr. Arthur Laffer and Dr. Wayne Winegarden, and his policy expertise has been referenced by The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, National Review, the L.A. Times, The Hill, the Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post. His weekly column “Free Market Friday” is published by the Journal Record and syndicated in 27 markets. A recipient of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s prestigious Private Sector Member of the Year award, Small is nationally recognized for his work to promote free markets, limited government and innovative public policy reforms. Jonathan holds a B.A. in Accounting from the University of Central Oklahoma and is a Certified Public Accountant.

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