Governor Susana Martinez waited until the last hour of the last day to take action on several of the most important bills to emerge from the 2013 session of the New Mexico Legislature, including the state budget, capital outlay and the bill that keeps the lottery scholarship fund solvent for the coming year. All were signed, but with line item vetos
After a line by line comparison of line-item vetoes with their respective enrolled and engrossed bills, here is a brief synopsis of how UNM fared:
One of the main provisions of SB 113 was one-time funding of nearly $10 million to help keep the Lottery Scholarship fund solvent through the coming year. In her message, Governor Martinez had this to say about that fund:
"We cannot afford to continue to pour money into a fund that is unsustainable without adopting meaningful reform. Regardless, our students should not suffer as a result of the Legislature's inability to take appropriate action. So, although I am signing this bill, I encourage lawmakers to work together to restructure the lottery program so we can maintain solvency and so the program is sustainable without a continued infusion of other state funds."
The Governor vetoed $4.4 million in projects from the $218.1 million in severance tax bonds included in SB 60. Those vetoes took $125,000 out of a total of $10.1 million in UNM projects.
Funding to provide a one percent pay increase for state and higher education employees survived in the General Appropriations Act of 2013 signed by the Governor. However, $20 million for the Higher Education Endowment Fund did not. Explaining her line item veto of this funding, the Governor said:
"Additionally, there is relatively little accountability for how money in the Higher Education Endowment Fund is spent. Funneling such a large portion of state dollars toward a fund like this (which has been used in the past for salary support for professors) also skirts our efforts to reform the higher education funding formula – designed to ensure that higher education institutions are increasingly funded based on their ability to educate and graduate students. "
Our analysts continue to do a line by line review of the Governor's executive message, but there appears to be no additional major impact to UNM.
And in case you're wondering, the Governor the pension solvency plan for the Public Employee Retiree Association. She signed the ERB solvency plan last week.
Look to the Bill Tracker on the Government Relations website for a review of final action on all UNM bills of interest.
Susan McKinsey, Office of Government and Community Relations