Political power and partisanship: The role and influence of political forces in state higher education funding



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The realm of higher education exists far beyond the classrooms and halls of academia; higher education operates at the intersection of state politics and government forces. States’ public higher education systems have a symbiotic relationship with politics; for their lifeblood, state appropriations, are dependent on the structure and powers of their respective state legislature. Public higher education institutions are embedded within a larger political environment, and it stands to reasons this environment will strongly influence both budgetary and policy actions in postsecondary education in measurable ways. This study seeks to develop a comprehensive conceptualization of the state political system which impacts the level of state funding support for a public system of higher education. This study specifically focuses on the political attributes and composition of the Oklahoma State Legislature and executive branch to understand what impact, if any, these political forces can explain the trends of state funding for Oklahoma’s public higher education system and what role Republican legislators have on state funding levels for higher education.
This analysis provides strong evidence there is a collective significant effect from state-level political predictor variables for Oklahoma public institutions’ state appropriations levels. This study reveals the affect state political forces, from both the executive and legislative branches, have on Oklahoma’s public higher education system.

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State Appropriations, Higher Education, Fiscal Policy, Oklahoma, Budget