UNM has a number of funding priorities for the 2015 New Mexico Legislative Session, but the coming budget battle may make it difficult. Falling oil and gas prices are welcome to consumers, but in a state that gets a substantial portion of its operating revenue from oil and gas production, the low prices are a mixed blessing. Lawmakers must calculate the state budget based partially on what they think the price of a barrel of oil will be over next fall and winter.
Currently higher education is about 14 percent of the state budget and UNM is hoping that will increase. A major priority is increasing the share of general fund appropriations for higher education. The university also supports solvency of the lottery scholarship in a way that is equitable for all students.
UNM is hoping for an increase in compensation for employees. The university competes globally for quality faculty members and wants to offer additional compensation for the recruitment and retention of faculty members.
UNM is also seeking additional funds for Research and Public Service Projects, an expanded endowment program that includes matching funds for facility construction and naming opportunities, and deferred maintenance funding to begin addressing an estimated $375 million backlog.
Two other priorities include a research infrastructure fund to support and enhance the discovery of new technologies and entrepreneurial activity in the state for faculty members conducting research and a bill that would help UNM allow out-of-state students access to online courses. UNM would like to become part of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), an organization that helps institutions procure authorization to provide courses in other states.
Health Sciences Center Priorities
UNM main campus priorities are only half the story. The Health Sciences is seeking additional funds to pay medical school faculty well enough to attract and retain nationally respected faculty physicians, to establish residencies for students in rural areas of the state and to establish a Center for Childhood Maltreatment. UNM currently has the only team in the state dedicated to suspected cases of child abuse and would like to provide statewide support to healthcare professionals.
UNM would also like to expand access to the Pain Center and significantly decrease the wait time for first appointments. Project ECHO is another priority. It provides improved access to specialty care for patients in rural area of the state by setting up telehealth consultation capability between HSC specialists and health care providers outside the Albuquerque area.
UNM would like to provide educational opportunities for students who would like to become dentists by establishing a BA/DDS program, modeled on a program that allows medical students to progress more quickly through an undergraduate degree. The university would also like to expand dental hygienist training so they can provide expanded care with additional training and certification.
An additional priority is to allow student loan forgiveness for students who set up a medical practice in rural and underserved areas of New Mexico.
UNM now has the responsibility of maintaining current licensing health care professional licensure and survey data. This responsibility was transferred from the NM Department of Health and the NM Regulation and Licensing Department in 2012. To date, the New Mexico legislature has not supplied funds to conduct the work so the university is seeking adequate financial support to meet the requirements of the act.
The state Office of the Medical Investigator is located at UNM. A new building has improved capabilities of the office but utility costs have more than doubled from those at the old building. The university is seeking assistance in defraying the increased utility costs.
Capital Project Requests
UNM is seeking funds from future General Obligation and Severance Tax Bonds for a number of projects.
Main Campus Academic
Est. Project Cost Appropriation Request
Farris Engineering Renovation $26,001,500 $4,700,000
Interdisciplinary Science Education Building
(Physics and Astronomy) $77,560,000 $753,290
Anderson School of Management $48,000,000 $500,000
Subtotal $149,260,000 $5,963,290
Health Sciences Center
Health Education Building Phase III $29,750,000 $8,000,000
Subtotal $29,750,000 $8,000,000
ADA Compliance $6,800,000 $250,000
Science & Technology Park IT Infrastructure Phase I $4,400,000 $956,226
Electrical Distribution $2,000,000 $2,000,000
IT Electrical Upgrades $2,200,000 $2,200,000
Subtotal $15,400,000 $5,406,226
Construction Technologies Career Center Phase 1 $3,860,000 $2,865,000
Physical Plant Building $2,000,000 $1,500,000
STEMH Technical Center $2,500,000 $2,175,000
Chilled Water System Upgrade $8,490,000 $1,950,000
Legislative funding is about 19 percent of the overall university budget, but it is a critical part because it supports faculty and staff salaries and pays for building infrastructure and operation.
The university is a substantial part of the statewide higher education infrastructure. UNM awards 46 percent of the total number of degrees students receive in New Mexico.