The Woodward News

Local News

June 20, 2014

Attorney General says diversion of funds unconstitutional

Woodward, Okla. — OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A directive by the Oklahoma Legislature to divert about $7.9 million from a program that provides free college tuition to thousands of students from low-income families was unconstitutional, the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office said in an opinion Thursday.

The opinion, signed by Attorney General Scott Pruitt and Solicitor General Patrick Wyrick, responded to House Democratic Leader Scott Inman of Del City, who objected to taking the money from the program called the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program.

Legal opinions by the Attorney General's Office carry the force of law until altered or struck down by a court.

OHLAP provides free college tuition to Oklahoma students whose family income is $50,000 or less and maintain a certain high-school grade point average. OHLAP serves about 19,000 students at an annual cost of about $60 million.

Last week, Inman questioned whether the Legislature has the authority to order the Board of Equalization, which determines the amount of revenue needed to meet the program's scholarship obligations, to reduce the funding.

The Attorney General's opinion says it was unconstitutional for the Legislature to make a demand of the board to reduce OHLAP's funding in a general appropriations bill.

"The Legislature lacks the authority to direct the state Board of Equalization how to calculate the amount to be certified as available for appropriations," the opinion also says.

Inman said he believes the opinion gives the board the authority to ignore the Legislature's directive, which was part of the $7.1 billion general appropriations bill that funds most state government functions during the fiscal year beginning July 1.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office, Diane Clay, said the office had already begun an inquiry into the funds transfer when Inman requested the formal opinion. Clay said representatives of the Regents for Higher Education, which administers the OHLAP program, expressed their own concerns a week earlier.

Text Only
Local News
  • Tulsa man looking for military friend

    There are times in everyone's life when you think back and wonder whatever happened to those old friends from your past.

    July 23, 2014

  • Zoning change approved by commission

    Monday night Woodward city commissioners unanimously approved a zoning change that was contested by one local man who was protesting because he wants the neighborhood to continue its residential growth.

    July 23, 2014

  • Tangier Reunion set for Saturday, Sunday

    When Barbara (Allison) Merwin thinks back to the years she spent in the classrooms of Tangier High School, it takes a few moments for her to recall how school life was 60 years ago.

    July 23, 2014

  • Traveler Majors take regional opener

    ALVA - The Traveler Majors continued their strong Connie Mack playoff showing at Northwestern Oklahoma State University Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • County OKs road use agreement

    Woodward County Commissioners on Monday approved a final version of a road use agreement between a energy company planning a wind turbine construction project near southeast Woodward County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Camp to show art is everywhere

    The Woodward Arts Theatre will become a recycling plant next week.

    July 22, 2014

  • Fairview Wrangler Rodeo turns 50 this year

    Western fun continues in Northwest Oklahoma as the Fairview Wrangler’s hosting their 50th annual rodeo.

    July 22, 2014

  • Common Core repeal has educators worried

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — With the Legislature's repeal of tough, new English and math standards known as Common Core, education leaders said they're concerned Oklahoma students will fall further behind their counterparts in more than 40 state which have implemented the standards.

    July 22, 2014

  • web1.jpg Travelers win Connie Mack state championship

    Down 2-0 and down to their final three outs, the Traveler Majors delivered a championship rally in the seventh inning Sunday.

    July 20, 2014 9 Photos

  • Hearing set on rezoning

    City commissioners will tackle rezoning items and a licensing agreement amendment Monday evening at the regularly scheduled meeting of the City of Woodward and Woodward Municipal Authority.

    July 20, 2014