Home News Local News Legislature gives ENMU-R more than $2.9 million for projects

Legislature gives ENMU-R more than $2.9 million for projects

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Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell President Shawn Powell tells board members Wednesday about the many legislative allocations the school received. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Raises, operational budget funding also approved

Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell did very well this year in terms of legislative funding, thanks to a healthy budget surplus in the state.

The school received $2.93 million in allocations for capital projects and equipment and for some programs, in addition to general budget funding and benefits students will receive from the newly enacted Opportunity Scholarship program.

Gathered at a Wednesday Community College Board meeting on campus, one administrator called it “Christmas in March” when receiving confirmation of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s approval Wednesday of the different funding items provided to ENMU-R by the New Mexico Legislature.

“We are very thankful for our local legislators and their efforts, and we really appreciate them,” President Shawn Powell said.

Capital outlay from severance bonds and general funds will fund four different items for a total of $971,000. Those were $40,000 for an ambulance simulator and mannequins for medical services programs, $125,000 for the aviation technology program, $306,000 for electrical improvements and $500,000 for installing video surveillance equipment.

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The school also received $463,700 in Research and Public Service Projects funding. That included $270,000 for a nursing expansion program, a $170,000 increase over the previous year; $75,100 for the airframe mechanics program; and $118,600 for the special services program.

The latter two programs are receiving the same funding as they did during the previous year, Powell said.

In addition, the governor and the Legislature approved an ENMU-R project as part of a statewide general obligation bond issue for higher education. That is $1.5 million to improve lighting systems and surveillance systems meant to improve campus safety. GO bonds are repaid by statewide property taxes, so the bond issue will go before statewide voters in November.

“I’ve heard both sides,” Powell said, “that there will be a tax increase. I’ve heard there won’t be a tax increase. We’ll wait to see. I’m not sure where that is going to end up.”

In addition, Powell said that ENMU-R students enrolled in two-year academic programs will be eligible for scholarships under the $17 million Opportunity Scholarship program, which still must go through the New Mexico Higher Education Department for implementation.

The school also has received $29.84 million in state and federal funding for its operational expenses and will receive salary increases along with other higher education institutions.

“We are anticipating a 4% compensation increase,” Powell said, “and I think that is going to be 70% funded for the fringe benefits. We will have to pay … about $135,000 to $136,000 for our portion of fringe benefits for the across-the-board raise the governor signed off on.”

A discussion also occurred about what might happen next fiscal year, which starts in July, given the recent fall in oil and gas prices. The fluctuations are due, in part, to impacts from the global COVID-19 situation.

“The concern is this, starting July 1, we will have a $7.6 billion budget for that year, including your budget,” said District 66 State Rep. Phelps Anderson, R-Roswell, who was part of the area legislators to ensure funding for ENMU-R. “That budget is based on $50 a barrel crude oil. If the price of crude oil drops $1, state revenues drop $23 million. If the price of natural gas drops 10 cents, that’s $17 million. But that’s for the entire 12 months, and, of course, oil prices, gas prices go up and down.”

He said that some of the governor’s vetoes of capital outlay and general fund requests were intended to keep enough money in reserve should the oil and gas industry experience a serious downturn in the months ahead.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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