Charles Wyrick, Oklahoma State Senator

Every year during the legislative session, one day is set aside for students, faculty, administrators and supporters of Oklahoma colleges and universities, including Northeastern Oklahoma A & M, to come to the State Capitol and visit with lawmakers about the importance of these institutions, not only to the students, but to our entire state. I couldnít agree more.

Our investments in higher education pay dividends for literally years to come. An economic study conducted by Regional Economic Models, Inc., provides proof for that statement. For every $1 of state-appropriated funds invested in higher education in our state, an additional $5.15 is pumped into Oklahomaís economy. When factors such as direct institutional employment and spending, student and visitor spending and graduate earnings and productivity are all examined, we see that high education indirectly and directly accounts for approximately 23 percent of our economy.

Looking at the impact higher education can have on individual Oklahomans, it can mean the difference between attaining goals, dreams and financial independence and a life that takes just the opposite track. Over a lifetime, a college degree can mean a difference in earnings of $1 million. On the average, the more education an individual has, the greater their earning potential will be.

The news is also good for parents and grandparents who hope to see their children and grandchildren stay and raise their families in Oklahoma. Seventy-eight percent of students earning a bachelorís degree during 2006-07 were employed in Oklahoma one year after graduation.

Iím also proud of the work weíve done in the legislature to make the dream of a college education a reality for thousands of Oklahoma young people, including students right here. Oklahomaís Promise, the OHLAP scholarship, continues to provide resources to good students who might not otherwise be able to afford a college education. Iím still convinced it is one of the best economic development tools we have on the books.

As always, I welcome your comments on state government. Please feel free to contact me by writing to Senator Charles Wyrick at the State Capitol, Room 530, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105; call me at (405) 521-5561.