Budget fix coming soon for colleges, universities; time to renew efforts to create jobs

Funding for New Mexico’s colleges and universities, which was vetoed by the governor following this year’s regular legislative session, will soon be restored, ending the confusion and consternation that has bedeviled students and faculty for months. The Legislature, which will either restore funding for higher education in the special session or win in court to […]

Budget fix coming soon for colleges, universities; time to renew efforts to create jobs

Funding for New Mexico’s colleges and universities, which was vetoed by the governor following this year’s regular legislative session, will soon be restored, ending the confusion and consternation that has bedeviled students and faculty for months. The Legislature, which will either restore funding for higher education in the special session or win in court to overturn the governor’s veto of its funding, will return its attention to creating jobs and repairing New Mexico’s ailing economy.

As a retired college president and, before that, a public school superintendent, I understand the problems our colleges and universities are facing with absolutely no funding as of July 1. Students are reconsidering plans to enroll; professors, instructors and support staff have no assurance that they will have jobs after July 1; and the reputation of New Mexico’s higher education system suffers across the country.

The only good news is that the Legislature is committed to restoring funding for our colleges and universities — without any strings attached.

Pete Campos is a Democratic state senator from Las Vegas who represents the 8th district.

The governor’s demand that comprehensive tax reform be approved before funding for higher education is restored is neither prudent nor possible. There is virtually no disagreement that tax reform is necessary, but to do it in a matter of a few days without any reliable data on the likely or even possible effects it will have months from now would be irresponsible. We must proceed cautiously, remembering that predicted outcomes of some past tax reform efforts proved completely wrong, and seek reforms that stabilize the state’s revenue streams to ensure that essential public services — education, public safety and health programs — continue uninterrupted.

We will consider, and should approve, several tax measures to modernize our system and close loopholes. Chief among those is the internet sales tax loophole that puts our community stores at a disadvantage when selling the same goods as online retailers. Although legislation to close this loophole was vetoed during the regular session, there is reason to believe that the governor will look more favorably upon it now.

There is more disagreement, deservedly so, surrounding other tax proposals. Reimposing the “food tax”, which the governor has said she is open to considering, should be rejected. Every New Mexican would pay the food tax, and it would hurt middle-class and lower-income New Mexicans because a greater percentage of their income each month goes to pay for groceries.

Taxing nonprofit hospitals at the same rate as their for-profit competitors could be considered, but we must look carefully at the effect that would have on rural health care clinics, where many of the most economically vulnerable New Mexicans receive care. There’s a reason we tax nonprofit hospitals and clinics differently than for-profit hospitals, and we should not change that policy quickly. We cannot afford to lose medical, dental and behavioral health services, as well as the jobs that go along with providing those services, in our rural areas.

Last year alone, 343,000 New Mexicans received care at nonprofit primary care clinics. Their voices need to be heard as we debate this issue.

Reforming our tax system cannot be done quickly and without legitimate data on the effects of changes. Tax reform will be an appropriate topic for the next regular session, which is only seven months away.

Instead, we can restore funding for our colleges and universities with commonsense tax reform (closing the internet sales tax loophole) and sweeping and diverting other state funds, including money earmarked for legislative retirement, to the state’s General Fund.

The special session is a great opportunity to work together to improve our economy without burdening taxpayers. We are seeing early signs of an improving economy. We must take advantage of that to restore funding for our colleges and universities, rebuild the state’s cash reserves and work to create jobs in New Mexico.

We are public servants, and we should always focus on the benefit for all New Mexicans.

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

House Speaker Javier Martinez said that the Paid Family and Medical Leave will return to next year’s legislative session. SB 3, sponsored by state…
State’s sexual assault services receive state funding but still a gap in federal dollars 

State’s sexual assault services receive state funding but still a gap in federal dollars 

New Mexico sexual assault services will come up short in Fiscal Year 2025. New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs advocated for $4 million…
Advocates for family and children say budget provides benefits for children

Advocates for family and children say budget provides benefits for children

The legislature passed a budget of $10.2 billion this year. The budget now awaits the governor’s signature.  Some highlights from the budget that will…
Legislation focused on reforms of oil and gas extraction fails to pass

Legislation focused on reforms of oil and gas extraction fails to pass

This legislative session brought few changes to the oil and gas industry that provides a substantial part of the state’s budget. Going into the…
Senate approves bill to allow wastewater project funding through the Water Trust Board

Senate approves bill to allow wastewater project funding through the Water Trust Board

The Senate passed legislation that changes which projects can receive funding through the Water Trust Board on a 34-5 vote on Wednesday. HB 211…
Geothermal bill makes it to governor’s desk for second consecutive year

Geothermal bill makes it to governor’s desk for second consecutive year

The Senate unanimously passed legislation intended to spur development of geothermal energy on Wednesday. HB 91 now heads to the governor’s desk.  The legislation…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican A challenging task awaits New Mexico lawmakers in the next 30 days: Reconciling three very different…
Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

The House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee discussed a potential constitutional amendment that seeks to limit the governor’s executive powers. The committee approved…
Supreme Court censures attorney over conduct in anti-COVID policy suits

Supreme Court censures attorney over conduct in anti-COVID policy suits

The New Mexico State Supreme Court censured a New Mexico attorney because of her “misconduct” in two unsuccessful cases pushing back on COVID-19 regulations…
Guv outlines some health priorities on state spending

Guv outlines some health priorities on state spending

During her state of the state address on Tuesday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham told legislators that one of her legislative priorities is a request…
Referendum on Edgewood’s anti-abortion ordinance moves forward

Referendum on Edgewood’s anti-abortion ordinance moves forward

The town of Edgewood is moving forward with its ballot referendum on its anti-abortion ordinance at a cost of more than $35,000. The town…
2023 Top Stories #1: Anti-abortion efforts go local

2023 Top Stories #1: Anti-abortion efforts go local

Note: Every year, we count down the top ten stories of the year, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers. Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court heard oral…
NM Supreme Court to decide if local anti-abortion ordinances are legal

NM Supreme Court to decide if local anti-abortion ordinances are legal

The New Mexico Supreme Court will decide whether anti-abortion ordinances passed by local governments in eastern New Mexico over the last 13 months can…
Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

House Speaker Javier Martinez said that the Paid Family and Medical Leave will return to next year’s legislative session. SB 3, sponsored by state…
Paid Family Medical Leave bill dies in the final days of the session for a second year in a row

Paid Family Medical Leave bill dies in the final days of the session for a second year in a row

A bill that would have provided paid leave for several weeks died on the House floor when 11 Democrats sided with Republicans to vote…
Paid Family and Medical Leave bill passes Senate

Paid Family and Medical Leave bill passes Senate

A bill that seeks to provide several weeks of paid family and medical leave for workers in the state passed the state senate by…

Bill to require disclosure of use of AI in campaign materials goes to governor

The Senate approved a bill aiming to require the disclosure of the use of artificial intelligence or other changes made by computers to campaign…
House amends, passes bill banning firearms near polling places

House amends, passes bill banning firearms near polling places

The House narrowly approved a bill that would ban firearms near polling places. The House voted 35-34 to pass the bill following an extensive…
Manny Gonzales doesn’t qualify for Senate GOP primary ballot

Manny Gonzales doesn’t qualify for Senate GOP primary ballot

Nella Domenici is the lone Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, after Manny Gonzales III failed to qualify for the ballot. Gonzales did not file…
Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

House Speaker Javier Martinez said that the Paid Family and Medical Leave will return to next year’s legislative session. SB 3, sponsored by state…
Advocates for family and children say budget provides benefits for children

Advocates for family and children say budget provides benefits for children

The legislature passed a budget of $10.2 billion this year. The budget now awaits the governor’s signature.  Some highlights from the budget that will…
Supporters say affirmative consent bill would make college campuses safer

Supporters say affirmative consent bill would make college campuses safer

The bill to mandate affirmative consent policies and procedures in institutions of higher education awaits the governor’s signature. If signed, advocates hope it will…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report