April 13, 2017

Higher ed secretary had no input on veto of entire higher ed budget

Matthew Reichbach

Even the woman in charge of higher education in New Mexico didn’t have input on the governor’s veto of the entire higher education budget.

Higher Education Department Secretary Barbara Damron said Gov. Susana Martinez did not consult with her before making the vetoes, according to the Albuquerque Journal. Damron made the remarks in a speech to the Economic Forum of Albuquerque this week.

The governor vetoed the entire higher education budget, saying it was necessary to balance the budget, which became unbalanced when she vetoed a package that would have raised some taxes and fees. Martinez said the higher education budget could be solved in a special session.

The governor also vetoed the entire legislative budget. The Legislative Finance Committee is set to discuss a possible lawsuit over the veto in an executive session, which means not public, later Thursday.

Martinez also mentioned that the state Senate did not act on several of her nominees for regents at universities—notably the University of New Mexico, the state’s largest university.

The secretary also acknowledged that potential students are concerned.

“I know students right now who are registering for fall semester saying, ‘Wait, wait, wait, wait. Where’s the money again? Who’s paying (for) this? Does the state believe in higher education?’” Damron said, according to the Journal.

The higher education budget vetoed by Martinez was 1.1 percent less than the budget in the current fiscal year. Higher education spending saw large cuts in 2016.