New Mexico governor defends higher education veto

Gov. Martinez defended her decision to veto funding for higher education

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Gov. Susana Martinez defended her decision to veto funding for higher education during a press conference in Las Cruces on Monday.

She said, “The Legislature has disappointed me in the past but I cannot recall another time where I have ever felt that their reckless decisions have left New Mexico hanging in the balance and that is what they’ve done this last session.”

Last week, the governor struck down a $350 million spending plan with tax increases proposed by lawmakers then vetoed all funding for higher education including New Mexico State University.

Last year, NMSU received about $191 million from the state.

The new budget will take effect July 1 which the governor vetoed will take effect July 1.

Martinez said “(Lawmakers) wasted 60 days in Santa Fe on bills like official state song, dances and hamburgers.”

Sen. Bill Soules, D-Las Cruces, told NewsChannel 9 he thinks governor’s decision is “reckless.”

He said, “I know she’s talked about calling us into a special session to fix all of this but we’ve yet to hear a plan on how she’s going to go about doing that.”

When asked if he think there’s a chance to override the governor’s veto, Soules said, “I think there are opportunities to override some parts of the veto.”

Soules told NewsChannel 9 he thinks the state Senate could OK an override but getting enough bipartisan support in the state House would be hard.

Martinez said she’s confident that she and lawmakers will come to an agreement before or during a special session which could cost taxpayers $50,000 a day.

Meanwhile, the New Mexico State University Board of Regents recently delayed voting on increasing tuition because they wanted to see how much money the school would get from the state.

Soules said, “That means the universities are in limbo as to what their budget to next year is going to be. It takes a while to set up a budget to put it in place and get it running. This slows down this whole process which makes everything more difficult.”

Andres Valle, a sophomore at NMSU, told NewsChannel 9 he’s waiting to see how much more he’ll have to work to pay for tuition.

He said, “I’m on the lottery scholarship but it doesn’t cover everything.”

Meanwhile, Allyah Taylor, a junior at NMSU, said, “I pay my own tuition and a tuition increase is definitely going to affect me in the long run. I’ll probably have to take a semester off of school just to pay that balance.”

During Monday’s press conference, Martinez said she’s given the Legislature tons of options to help balance the budget without raising taxes including taking money from school districts that have an “excessive amount of money” in their reserves.

Regardless, Martinez said NMSU and other state universities would be funded come next fiscal year.

She said, “I know we’re going to fund education. There’s no way we’re going to leave them without any funding for the next year. That’s impossible.”

Martinez did not specify when a special session would be called but said she would announce it in the next couple of weeks.


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