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Oklahoma's Lieutenant Governor Comes To NEO A&M And Talks Higher - KOAM TV 7

Oklahoma's Lieutenant Governor Comes To NEO A&M And Talks Higher Education With Students

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The rising cost of higher education was on the minds of many college students today in Miami, and it even brought the Lieutenant Governor to town.
 "Would it anger me? Would it upset me? Yes it would," said Lt. Governor Todd Lamb.
 
Lamb came to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami, Oklahoma to talk about higher education in the state. Since 2008, state funding for higher education has been dropped by more than $100 million dollars. And earlier this month, Governor Mary Fallin proposed a five percent cut to state income tax in her State of the State address earlier this month, meaning more cuts to higher education. And students here came armed with questions.
  
"If the average student graduates with a higher increase in debt, due to the tuition and fees increase, how will the economy and those numbers change?," asked NEO Student Lauren Crudupe. 

"I'm an out of state student, and so based on the budget cut, I was wondering how he would continue to make it affordable, for out of state or even foreign exchange students to come to Oklahoma," said Sadey Saputo.  

However the Lieutenant Governor wouldn't comment on cuts to higher education, saying it's simply not his budget.  

"That's not my deal, I'm not here to defend anybody, or to straddle the fence and pass the buck on, I can just address what I can address as Lieutenant Governor, and that's my role as small business advocate, and our economy. Education relates to the economy, yes it does, but I don't currently set education policy," Lamb said.

What the Republican leader did say is that for a state with a population of more than 2 million, Oklahoma has the lowest unemployment rate, and the best net job growth rate in the nation. A product of Oklahoma higher education, Lamb said he hopes students walk away from the talk with a renewed interest to stay and work in the state.  

"Oklahoma is on the cusp of a renaissance, I don't want you to miss on the opportunity," Lamb said.
  
And though the Lieutenant Governor stressed his empathy for students upset at the prospect of higher fees. He said his best advice is to contact your local State Representatives and make sure your voice is heard.

It will likely be a few more months before the Oklahoma Legislature passes any proposed budget.
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