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NM Legislature could grant millions toward NMSU funding

It has been a busy month for New Mexico State University government figures and leadership. NMSU leaders travelled north to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to make an appearance at the New Mexico State Capitol during the 2024 New Mexico legislative session, which began on Jan. 16 and will end on Feb. 15.  

NMSU’s Assistant Vice President of Government and Community Relations Clayton Abbey, left, greets NMSU Student Regent Garrett Moseley, right, and ASNMSU Vice President Eduardo Gallegos at the New Mexico State capitol in Santa Fe, N.M.. on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. This day was designated 2024 New Mexico State University Day at the New Mexico Legislature. Abbey, Moseley and Gallegos made the trip in order to lobby for key projects and programs on behalf of NMSU. (Photo by Sam Wasson)

The trip entailed a meeting with state legislators to promote NMSU and lobby for key projects seeking funding in the 2025 executive budget.

Some of the university’s 2024 priority requests included a one-time requisition of $11.5 million for NMSU Global Campus, $17.5 million for graduate assistantship support recurring for five fiscal years, and a one-time $7.7 million for a health insurance shortfall, totaling $36.7 million for the top three special requests.   

NMSU Global is the university’s exclusive online campus, which NMSU Student Regent Garrett Moseley believes “is going to be a cornerstone of our university in the future.”  

NMSU’s Assistant Vice President of Government and Community Relations Clayton Abbey agreed that adding funding for NMSU Global is “critical because, one, we have set a goal for the university to really become the flagship in the online space and digital learning.” 

Abbey reported that NMSU and the state of New Mexico are seeing trends of losing online students to out-of-state providers such as Grand Canyon University and the University of Phoenix. “We believe that there needs to be at least one premiere provider in the state that is a public institution,” Abbey said. “So, we have taken the lead on that.” 

The second priority for graduate assistantship support comes after months of negotiations for better tuition coverage between NMSU and the NMSU Graduate Workers United union. The funding request seeks to provide tuition reduction, stipends and health benefits to graduate students. “We’re seeing some movement on that,” Abbey said. “There is some funding. I think that will be a success for, not just the university, but for those students that the needle is moving.” 

Graduate assistant Lynn Cole expanded on the benefits of supporting graduate students. She said it was hard to imagine these benefits becoming reality with the current compensation being what it is, but she is hopeful for the future. “The more we can offer the more interesting new people, with good research, and more competitive applicants we can bring in,” Cole said.  

The third priority request addresses a health insurance shortfall that began in 2020, alongside the COVID-19 pandemic and many other unforeseen issues.  

State-level decisions at the time raised the cost of providing insurance, which the university and its employees were not prepared to offset. A deficit grew, a portion of which the state provided during the 2023 legislative session, but a remaining amount of $7.7 million fell onto the university.  

New Mexico State University community members from across the state gather on the steps of the New Mexico State capitol in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. It was NMSU Day at the legislature that brought the group together to represent the university, its projects and programs during the 2024 New Mexico legislative session. (Photo by Sam Wasson)

“A hit like that can certainly wreak havoc on a public institution,” Abbey said. “We don’t have the ability to just raise our prices, you know, tuition, things of that nature, to absorb that cost. So, we were asking the state to help support that, you know, just kind of to offset the cost to us.” 

There are multiple categories of funding that other requests fall into, including instructional and general, research and public service projects, capital outlay, non-instructional and general, and the division of specials, supplementals and deficiencies. Around $118 million was requested for capital outlay projects at NMSU and its community college campuses. 

Some additional 2024 requests that were made include $35 million for the Creative Media Institute at NMSU’s Arrowhead Park, $25 million for the 12 statewide Agricultural Science Centers, $20 million for electric and steam infrastructure, $17.33 million for the New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service, which is a $960,000 increase from last year, and $9.675 million for athletics.  

Once the executive budget is passed by both chambers of the legislature before the sessions ends this Thursday, Feb. 15, it will be sent to the governor to be signed no later than March 6. By then, NMSU will officially know what funding has been allocated. 

NMSU’s Office of Government and Community Relations will release a report on the 2024 legislative session once funding decisions are finalized. The NMSU community can also keep track of the budget bill via the New Mexico Legislature website.  

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