Martinez’ vetoes on higher ed and other budgets still stand after day one of special legislative session

Originally published by the Daily Lobo
By Celia Raney

On May 24, the motion to override Gov. Susana Martinez’ line item budget vetoes proposed by the 53rd meeting of the New Mexico Legislature failed with a vote of 39 in favor and 29 opposed during the first day of the New Mexico special legislative session.

On the Senate floor, Rep. Damon Ely introduced the motion to override the governor’s line item vetoes.

“What has captured the public’s attention is the veto of all funding of higher education,” Ely said. “That includes both state and federal funding of higher education, totaling almost three billion dollars.”

Some of the budget items vetoed include $1 million in funding for pediatric oncology, $5 million for Carrie Tingley Hospital and $3 million for UNM’s newborn intensive care unit, he said.

“The governor has vetoed all funding for UNM — the campus in Albuquerque, Gallup, Los Alamos, Valencia county, Taos,” he said.

N.M. State University, Dona Ana Community College, N.M. Highlands University, Western N.M. University, N.M. Institute of Mining and Technology and branches of Eastern N.M. University are also affected by the veto.

“The extent of the governor’s veto to higher education is truly breathtaking,” Ely said.

During the meeting, there seemed to be rising concerns about: the budget for the next fiscal year, problems with financial planning and bond rating and faculty and students leaving N.M. higher education institutions to pursue an education elsewhere.

“April, May and June are the months that college students decide where to go,” Ely said. “We are losing students, the best and the brightest among us, of our youth, are going out of state — we don’t need that emigration to continue. Our faculty is leaving. We have positions that aren’t being filled because of the concern about the budget.”

130,000 students have been affected, according to Ely — 60,000 in four-year institutions and 70,000 in two-year institutions; 4,500 faculty members and 10,000 support staff.

“This has had an immediate and devastating effect on our institutions of higher learning,” Ely said.

The Senate took a recess after the vote and reconvened in the late afternoon.

The House passed a bill that would allocate close to $3 million to higher education in New Mexico.

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