The 2019 session of the NM Legislature commences next Tuesday Jan. 15, at noon with the opening session featuring Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham delivering her first State of the State after taking over for outgoing Gov. Susana Martinez on Jan. 1.
For 60 days, legislators and the executive branch will be wrangling with a great many varied issues, though none will be more important than crafting the FY 20 state budget.
With an estimated $1.1 billion in new money available, New Mexico is seeing unprecedented general fund revenues from oil and gas activity. However, policymakers are familiar with this industry’s volatility and the risk that it poses to recurring revenues, so the upcoming budget process should be interesting. Both the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) and the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) have submitted budget recommendations based on December revenue projections.
Focused, one-time investments are a highly beneficial use of this funding that can encourage long- term economic development, improve New Mexicans’ quality of life and maintain existing state assets that continue to deteriorate due to limited capital project funding in recent years.
The following gives a brief glimpse of The University of New Mexico’s 2019 legislative priorities.
- Instruction & General / Funding Formula
Since the funding formula’s implementation seven years ago, UNM has met the challenges of the performance-based formula and strongly supports maintaining its current metrics and calculations. Institutions should be rewarded for efforts in improving outcomes for students, and need stability in the formula. UNM supports an 8 percent increase of new money for the funding formula.
- Medical School Instruction & General Funding
The UNM School of Medicine is not part of the funding formula. The UNM SOM seeks a percentage parity with the funding received by other institutions throughout the state.
- Cancer Center 340B Funding Replacement
The UNM Cancer Center requests $5.8 million to replace money lost due to 340B regulatory changes.
- Lottery Scholarship
UNM supports solvency of the lottery scholarship fund that is equitable for all students.
The students will seek to restore the Liquor Excise Tax to the lottery fund to provide full tuition for NM students.
- Compensation Funding
UNM supports a compensation package that reflects the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff. The last substantial appropriated compensation increase was in FY08. During the eleven years since, there have been three small increases that funded only those employees who are paid from the General Fund. This is 60 percent of the actual cost of providing a pay raise. Additional funding is needed for pay increases and to offset rising healthcare costs and retirement contributions. UNM also supports a revision to the formula used to calculate compensation for our faculty and staff.
Capital and Research & Public Service projects
UNM is also requesting slightly more than $27 million in estimated costs for Capital Projects and approximately $8.7 million for a variety of Research and Public Service Projects.
For a complete list, visit UNM's 2019 Legislative Priorities.
How to Track Bills of interest
For the past month, legislators have been pre-filing proposed legislation that will be considered during the 60-day session. With more than 400 pieces of legislation pre-filed, it will be a busy 60 days. UNM is tracking a number of those bills, as they have consequences for the main campus, HSC, Human Resources or retirement, the budget or higher education in general.
UNM’s Office of Government & Community Relations will keep the campus community apprised of bills of interest to the University on the UNM Bill Tracker. UNM encourages friends, family, neighbors and colleagues to also sign up for daily updates. The goal is to keep the campus community apprised of the process and provide the info you’ll need to navigate the 2019 legislative session.