- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - It’ll be up to New Mexico voters to approve more than $186 million in general obligation bonds to support everything from senior citizen centers and schools to the construction of a new state crime lab.

Supporters say the funding is key to completing brick and mortar projects as New Mexico struggles with a budget crisis that has forced lawmakers and Gov. Susana Martinez to curb spending.

Just this week, the governor signed legislation passed during a special session that slashes funding for colleges and universities and most state agencies as New Mexico hopes for a rebound in the oil and natural gas market and for new ways to boost revenue to fund government services.

New Mexico State University, which had to eliminate dozens of jobs earlier this year, was ready for the latest round of cuts but top officials acknowledged Tuesday there’s still more uncertainty ahead for the next fiscal year.

NMSU President Garrey Carruthers said the state’s current budget woes are temporary but that getting support from voters for the proposed bonds will have long-term benefits for the state’s higher education system.

“The problem is we’ve been using way too much one time money to fill gaps and holes in our state budget. That’s why at NMSU we’ve been redesigning the university so we don’t have to struggle as much in the future,” he said.

If voters approve all four bonds on the ballot this year, the State Board of Finance estimates that property owners would pay $9.34 annually on each $100,000 of a property’s assessed value to pay for the bonds over the next decade. That’s the same amount assessed to property owners in 2015.

The bonds are voted on separately. If voters reject all four bonds, property taxes would decrease by the same amount and the projects would not be funded.

Here are some things to know about the bonds :

___

BOND QUESTION A

This bond issue would provide up to $15.4 million for upgrades to more than 100 senior citizen centers around the state, including the purchase of equipment to prepare meals and vehicles to deliver food in rural areas such as Catron, Rio Arriba and San Juan counties.

___

BOND QUESTION B

This bond would provide more than $10 million for acquisitions at public libraries, school libraries and tribal libraries. More than one third of the funding would go toward equipment and broadband infrastructure for libraries statewide. Another $3 million would be earmarked for the state Public Education Department to use for new resources at school libraries around the state.

___

BOND QUESTION C

The largest of the bond issues, this would provide about $142 million for capital construction at colleges and universities. About one quarter of the funds would go to projects at community colleges, while $27.5 million would help pay for renovations at New Mexico State University, including an overhaul of a decades-old building that currently houses the art department and the university’s art gallery.

___

BOND QUESTION D

This bond would provide more than $18 million for the New Mexico National Guard and state police, with nearly half going toward the expansion of the state crime laboratory. Earlier this year, the Legislature approved more funding for crime lab staff and DNA evidence analysis as the state grapples with a backlog of evidence kits from sexual assaults and rapes.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide