Capital outlay took front and center at this morning’s Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) hearing in Santa Fe, and as usual,  requests far exceed the availability of funds.  Given current calculations, the good news is that there will be approximately $351 million available for severance tax bonds (STB) and general obligation bonds (GO) in 2014. However, compared to nearly $2 billion in requests, that’s the proverbial drop in the bucket.
Of greatest interest to higher education is the current capacity of $165 million in GO bonds that are the preferred method of funding higher ed capital outlay projects.   That amount reflects a flat levy that comes without a property tax increase, which is important since GO bonds have to go to NM voters for approval.   In preparing for capital outlay, four-year institutions were asked to come up with their top three requests.  Two-year schools were asked for two projects.  Even with these limitations, their requests totaled $295.8 million.  Add special schools and secondary institutions, and that request doubles.
LFC principal analyst Linda Kehoe told the committee that the intention is to fund the most critical needs.  She specifically noted three higher ed projects, two from UNM, where safety concerns are hurting enrollment.   UNM’s top two project requests are Farris Engineering and Physics & Astronomy.
Analysts will look at senior center and library (including universities) requests in mid-October.  Those  could top $30 million. 
A more complete capital outlay package will be back before the LFC in December.
Until next time,
Susan McKinsey
Office of Government and Community Relations