The prospect of additional state funds brought welcome news for New Mexico’s college students Wednesday. Based on an improved revenue outlook, New Mexico will have an additional $373 million to spend, bringing the state budget to $7.436 billion, financial experts said during a Senate Finance Committee hearing.
The extra money would include a one-time appropriation of over $20 million to make college more affordable for New Mexicans.
Some $11 million of the new money would go into the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, which gives residents the chance to attend college tuition-free. An additional $10.5 million would shore up the New Mexico Legislative Lottery Scholarship Program so that it would cover 90 percent of tuition for eligible students headed to college.
“Increasing lottery [scholarship] tuition really reduces the requirement for the opportunity scholarship [program] and expands its reach,” Legislative Finance Committee Director David Abbey told committee members.
“That’s a pretty significant supplement to financial aid, over $20 million.” A combination of recurring and one-time expenditures would also benefit the public school system, giving it over $3 million in extra funding. Another $1 million is aimed at supporting athletic programs at the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University to help offset lost revenue because of the pandemic.
Another $34 million in state funding would be available to increase the employer contribution rate to the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board by 1 percent a year for the next four years.