June 6, 2008
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry has signed into law a bill sponsored by two local legislators to bring legislative oversight to the method by which Oklahoma's Higher Education system has gone into debt.
State Senator Patrick Anderson and State Representative Jason Murphey became concerned after the Oklahoma Higher Education Regents issued more than 250 million dollars of long term debt. The debt was issued without legislative oversight. The legislators sponsored Senate Bill 1398 in order to require that the Regents submit future real property debt projects to the legislature.
"It is important for the people's Representatives to have a voice in how the people's money is being spent," Anderson said. Anderson sponsored the bill in the Oklahoma State Senate and asked Murphey to sponsor the Bill in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Murphey explained that it is inappropriate for Higher Ed to continue going into debt while at the same time raising tuition costs.
"Limiting the ability of the government to issue long term debt should be one of our biggest goals," Murphey added. "It is irresponsible for unelected bureaucrats to saddle the citizens with millions of dollars of debt. This places debt on the backs of our children and grandchildren, and makes reducing the size of government difficult."
The bill faced a long road to approval. In order to become law SB 1398 had to be approved in a Senate Committee, in two House committees, twice on the Senate floor, twice on the House floor, in the State Senate's General Conference Committee and had to win approval of House conferees before being signed by the Governor. "We had to work hard to for this bill but it was worth it," Murphey said.
Rep. Murphey with High School students from Crescent.