For a New Mexico legislator, nothing says love like bringing back a building project to the home folks. So there was a ton of interest in this morning’s capital projects hearing before the Legislative Finance Committee.

The details are short, as the report was billed as a “framework,” with specifics to be released publicly in January with the LFC budget recommendation. What is known is that with close to a $ 1 billion in requests from throughout the state, there is only about $198.8 million available to spend on capital outlay, not counting a proposed set-aside for roads and other already authorized projects.

LFC principal analyst Linda Kehoe told committee members that higher education institutions requested $125.4 million in projects, but only $27 million will be recommended for the proposed capital outlay legislation. She reminded the group that the institutions should be busy spending the recently approved GO bond funds this coming year.

Not making the list of recommended LFC projects is UNM’s request of $4.7 million to complete the renovation of Farris Engineering. Rep. Larry Larranaga (R-Albuquerque) had major heartburn with the omission because of looming problems with accreditation if the renovation is not completed in a timely fashion. Legislators want UNM to figure out how much of its own funds can be brought to the table for this and other projects before they battle for additional monies.

Pre-filed bills for the upcoming session will start dropping in the hopper next week. The Legislature convenes at noon Tuesday, Jan. 20 for a 60-day session.