The final four days loom large in the roundhouse as capital outlay bills are centered in the house while the senate gets to deal with the budget.
Over the weekend, the Senate Finance Committee, as promised, further cut FY 17 budget expectations to more closely jibe with revenue realities. For higher education, that means a $19.5 million cut from the current year operating base. For UNM’s main campus, that’s a $4.5 million or 2.36 percent decrease. For the UNM Medical School, that’s a $1.5 million or 2.43 percent decrease. Main campus research and public service projects were cut in total about 3.5 percent, while HSC projects saw a 1.6 percent decrease.
In addition, the committee will be shaving 0.5 percent across the board to help make up the expected shortfall for the current year which is already half done.
This morning, senate finance amended and passed HB 311, which sweeps, transfers and uses about $291 million from various pockets of state government to help balance the budget. No funds were swept, transferred or used from higher education, which is a rare blessing.
Meanwhile, the severance tax bond package that has $3.25 million for 18 main campus projects is being considered in the House. The General Obligation Bond package, which has $27 million for the UNM Physics & Astronomy building and $7.5 million for branch projects came before House Ways and Means this afternoon. In that committee, the GO package bill was amended to reorder some money in Rio Rancho in order to provide $8 million for a health sciences building at UNM West. That project has a money match commitment from Rio Rancho. There was much discussion but the amendment passed as did the amended bill.
The budget could be heard by the full senate as soon as tonight while the house votes on the STB package.