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Local higher ed gets more than $14M; Bond funding also would give millions

The automotive mechanics and welding building at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell has been approved for $3 million in general obligation bond funding, which requires voter approval. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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In a change from recent years when state budget deficits were a problem, local higher education institutions will not experience cutbacks in general funding for the 2018-19 academic year, and, pending voter approval, could get several million for major building projects.

The appropriation, capital outlay and general obligation bills passed by the New Mexico Legislature in their recent regular session and signed by Gov. Susana Martinez March 7 give local institutions $14.1 million in state funding and $11.25 million in bond funding.

ENMU-R sees 1.8 percent boost

An Eastern New Mexico University administrator said operational funding increased by 1.8 percent for ENMU-Roswell this year.

“I think this is great,” said ENMU Vice President of Business Affairs Scott Smart. “We’ve gone through a decade of decreases, so any funding increase is great. This allows us to keep tuition and fees down for our students.”

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This year, ENMU-R received $11,036,200 in state monies for instructional and general purposes. It also received general fund allocations for “expansions” of three specific programs: $68,500 for nursing, $55,300 for airframe mechanics and $56,500 special services.

“That money goes for operational expenses,” Smart said. “It could cover everything from new faculty, to travel, to supplies.”

The funding amounts do not include non-state funds that pass through state agencies, such as federal student aid.

ENMU-R also received one of its three capital outlay requests.

While Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed a $21,435 allocation for a riding lawn mower and a $41,058 funding line for new vehicles for the university’s Physical Plant unit, she authorized the $63,095 allocation for new campus security vehicles.

Also passing the legislature and the governor’s pen is $3 million to renovate a building used for the automotive technology and welding programs. That money is part of the general obligation bonds bill, Senate Bill 94, and is subject to statewide voter approval in November elections.

If voters approve the higher education allocations, work on the ENMU-R building should start in May 2019.

NMMI funding remains the same

The higher education general funding for New Mexico Military Institute, which teaches both high school and junior college, totals $2,856,400, an amount equivalent to 2017 funding.

Of that funding, an allocation of $1,312,100 has been approved for instructional and general purposes. Athletics received $259,300, and the Knowles Scholarship program benefiting New Mexico students has been allocated $1,284,700.

NMMI officials confirmed the amounts received but chose not to comment about the funding allocations.

The Institute also was approved for two large GO bond allocations.

It has been approved for $3.75 million for improvements to barrack bathrooms, called sink rooms, and $4.5 million for renovations of the John Ross Thomas Memorial Hall and the Vertrees, Moore and Vlahopoulos Hall or the JRT/VMV halls.

According to information presented to the NMMI Board of Regents in May 2017, the barracks have 45 sink rooms that need to be renovated, having last had major work more than 25 years ago. Renovation of all 45 sink rooms is estimated to cost $7.5 million.

The JRT/VMV buildings house a post office, a grill, a ballroom used for lessons, a coffee shop and some offices and classrooms. The buildings have not had major renovations in years, NMMI officials said, and the current project, with a total estimated cost of $9.5 million, focuses primarily on upgrading the electrical, heating and ventilation systems.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.