University of Oklahoma President Mike Whelan says his university is facing “unprecedented” budget pressures as the state’s $7.1 billion budget year approaches.
The university’s board of regents approved $1.2 billion in funding in its September 18-19 budget for the coming year, including $400 million to cover the cost of a major university renovation.
But Whelans administration says the university will close at least 80 campuses and slash 1,400 jobs as part of the plan.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and the legislature approved $6.8 billion for the state in the September budget.
Whelas budget comes after a record $1 trillion budget surplus was approved in January.
“This is not a time to be idle,” Whelen said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We must move to meet the needs of our state.”
The governor and lawmakers also approved a $1 billion supplemental budget that would help the state meet its goal of cutting its debt to $18.7 billion, which is lower than the $18 billion the legislature had set for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
The state also is expected to increase revenue by about $300 million this fiscal year, Whelins office said.
Whelpan, a former governor, has promised a new tax on alcohol sales to offset the cuts.
He also has pledged to create thousands of jobs.
He says the state needs to do more to help the rural communities that are struggling to pay for their own schools.
“It’s going to cost more to educate a person who doesn’t have money in their pocket,” he said.
Oklahoma is one of just five states that has not fully recovered from a devastating oil boom in the 1980s.
WHelans plan is not the first to tackle the budget crisis.
Earlier this month, Oklahoma became the first state in recent memory to declare a state of emergency after falling below the state debt limit and raising its $3.3 billion borrowing limit to $6 billion.
Mary Fallins office also says it will cut the number of public schools by more than 300 by the end of the fiscal 2017-2018 school year.
The governor also announced plans to shut down more than 500 community colleges and colleges and slash nearly 2,000 community colleges.
Whetson has said the state will have a $3 billion deficit this fiscal cycle and that it will be the largest state budget shortfall in its history.
Whesons office also announced the creation of a new private fund to help rural areas that are facing the steepest tuition increases in the country.