UNM Regents Marron Lee and Ryan Berryman sailed through senate confirmations today, in a process that turned out to be not quite smooth. More than a dozen people, from UNM President Bob Frank to student leaders to marketing professors and trial lawyers spoke for the appointees in Senate Rules this morning.
Student Regent Berryman of Sandia Park is pursuing his MBA in the Anderson School of Management. Lee comes from a Cibola County ranching family that has long supported UNM and in fact gifted the University with its first live Lobo.
Lee also serves on the regents’ HSC committee, so during her confirmation before the full senate, several senators took the opportunity to talk about the need for the new replacement hospital and what they perceive as undue political influence weighing on the hospital’s approval process. They encouraged the regents to stay independent.
In other senate news, finance chair John Arthur Smith (D-Deming) recited the latest litany of revenue woes and remarked that “much denial is still prevalent around the state of New Mexico and in the halls of the Roundhouse.” He also noted that the state budget just approved by the House seems to be “extremely heavy.” This is not encouraging for higher education that came out of that budget process with a $3.1 million cut.
Smith wants the governor to engage in a conversation about revenue enhancement (tax increases) and not just service cuts. Otherwise, he said the state will continue to engage in faith-based economics and pray things will get better.