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$252 Million UNM Budget Approved

FOR THE RECORD: This story incorrectly reported that the University of New Mexico approved an increase in its minimum wage. The minimum wage remains $9. Regents had originally considered an increase to $10, but it did not make the final budget. Additionally, the correct amount of reserve funds used for a one-time supplement for employees is $3.24 million, not $3.79 million. Each employee will receive a $1,100 supplement.

University of New Mexico regents on Friday unanimously approved a $252 million instruction and general budget that includes a 3.75 percent increase in tuition and an 5.6 percent increase in fees.

The final vote came weeks after regents approved a preliminary budget that drew ire from students who protested the jump for athletics, from $81.75 to $131.75 per student. Regents Jamie Koch, Gene Gallegos, Don Chalmers and Jack Fortner voted in favor of the plan, as did student regent Jake Wellman. Regents Carolyn Abeita and Brad Hosmer were absent.

But both the UNM administration and regents argued that athletics is underfunded by student fees, especially in comparison to other schools in the Mountain West Conference. Athletics is expected to finish this year up to $2 million in the red, after lagging football ticket sales and the transition from former coach Mike Locksley, who is receiving a payout, to new coach Bob Davie.

The increases will mean tuition will cost $4,825 for undergraduates annually and $3,928 for graduate students. On top of that, undergraduates will pay $1,223 and graduates will pay $1,255 in fees.

UNM is projecting about $173 million for the instruction and general budget at the main campus for next year, the first time in three years UNM’s state funding isn’t being cut.

UNM says a tuition increase is necessary in part to help cover a one-time payment to employees whose pay comes from the instruction and general budget. University employees have not had a pay raise in three years.

Regents on Friday also passed a $1.5 billion Health Sciences Center budget, which includes the School of Medicine and University of New Mexico Hospital.

Among the budget proposals approved were:

♦ $4.2 million for Provost Chaouki Abdallah’s five-year academic plan, which includes hiring 20 new faculty members next year, new advisers and increasing pay for distinguished faculty members.

♦ A one-time $1.25 million loan for athletics.

♦ The allocation of 20 percent of revenues from the tuition increase to an aid fund for needy students. That amounts to roughly $720,000.

♦ Increase in health insurance premiums for both employees and the university of 8.5 percent. Additionally, UNM is changing its health insurance program so employees who make less than $50,000 carry a smaller cost than they have in the past. That will cost the university $427,000 a year.

♦ $3.79 million for a one-time supplemental check for all employees, amounting to 1.75 percent of their pay.

♦ Increase the minimum wage for workers from $9 an hour to $10 an hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. In New Mexico, it’s $7.50.

♦ A one-time, $463,697 allocation for libraries, which the administration says are severely underfunded.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal