SANTA FE, N.M. — As the New Mexico legislative session continues, NMSU waits to receive news of its extensive requests. The New Mexico state legislature convened the 2023 legislative session on Jan. 17 at the New Mexico State Capitol. The deadline for introductions is Feb. 16, and the session will finish on March 18.
NMSU submitted a substantial list of strategic initiatives and legislative priorities comprising nonrecurring and recurring funding requests. These capital outlay requests consist mostly of recurring infrastructure funding totaling over $61 million.
Special, supplemental and deficiency appropriations requests are included in the nonrecurring funding list. This list is categorized into four main sections requesting a total of $113.6 million. Seven requests fall into the student success category ($69.1 million), and five requests fall into the physical and IT infrastructure category ($36.6 million).
Requests also include $3.2 million for fiscal year 2023 increased utility cost recovery and $4.6 million for the athletics department. A complete breakdown of these requests can be found on the NMSU Office of Government and Community Relations website.
While all of the funding requests are high-priority, there are specific ones that NMSU officials are watching closely.
NMSU Director of State Government Relations Clayton Abbey says there are some “big-ticket” items that are of major interest to NMSU. Abbey delineated how the Legislative Finance Committee started the session by proposing an employee compensation increase, which is a major priority for every institution in the state.
“An additional element on compensation is that the Legislative Finance Committee did recommend targeted faculty pay increases, which we are certainly supportive of,” Abbey said.
Abbey went on to explain that NMSU entered the session pursuing two major priorities: funding for NMSU Global Campus, and the graduate assistants endowment. He indicated that these are one-time requests, whereas the capital outlay is more recurring funding that is brought forward each year.
“We’re feeling pretty confident that the majority of our items that you see [in the capital outlay requests] will make it into the capital outlay package and receive funding,” Abbey said.
Another focus is critical water system infrastructure, a project that would install a new water system at NMSU’s main campus. Funding is not only being asked for water infrastructure, but also for the Water Resources Research Institute. Abbey said they are seeking an increase in funding from $130,000 to $500,000 in support of costly research tests that produce water analyses.
“What we’re trying to do is to treat [water] in such a way that it can be reused in any form or fashion, ideally almost to the level of drinking water,” Abbey explained.
Turning back to student success, NMSU is also keeping a close eye on the Opportunity Scholarship funding. According to Abbey, there has been some disagreement in terms of what level to fund the Opportunity Scholarship.
Abbey says this scholarship has allowed students to return to school because they may have not been eligible for the lottery scholarship. “We certainly recognize that it’s been a boon for our students,” Abbey said.
NMSU’s legislative priorities are not the only items on the agenda. The Associated Students of New Mexico State University brought forth a new project request.
“Our capital outlay project was a renovation of the Activity Center,” said ASNMSU President Garrett Moseley.
Moseley explained that this summer he was able to allocate $20,000 from the ASNMSU Senate to hire a third-party architecture team to do a building condition assessment of the Activity Center. With this assessment they were able to get price estimates on construction costs, which allowed them to receive new funding from student fees.
“We were awarded $4.3 million from the student fee revenue bond to renovate the Activity Center,” Moseley said.
With this award, there was an agreement that ASNMSU would have to lobby the legislature for additional funding. ASNMSU’s governmental affairs team asked for $2 million at the legislative session.
According to Moseley, ASNMSU’s main effort is to renovate two of the six basketball courts and turn them into a new weight room. The current weight room would become a student lounge.
The National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association recommends 16,604 square feet of exercise space based on NMSU’s current student population. NMSU’s Activity Center currently only has 4,845 square feet of exercise space.
“This project would bring us to a little over 12,000 square feet, so we’re basically tripling the amount of exercise space we have in the Activity Center with this initiative,” Moseley said.
The results of the legislative session will either open or close new opportunities for NMSU. Stay updated and find out which legislative priorities get approved for funding at the New Mexico legislature website.