Your vote can make New Mexico a better place

Today, going to college is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. According to the Center for Higher Education and the Workforce Center at Georgetown University, 65 percent of jobs available in the U.S. – more than six out of every 10 jobs – will require at least some post-secondary education by 2020. That’s less than two years away.

A college degree can be a good indicator of employment. As the United States has steadily transitioned from a manufacturing to a knowledge economy, the U.S. Bureau of Statistics reports people with an associate’s degree are twice as likely to be employed as those with only a high school diploma, and people with a bachelor’s degree are three times more likely to be employed.

This year, voters throughout New Mexico have the opportunity to help our state’s public colleges, universities and specialty schools ensure our students receive the education they need to succeed by voting in support of General Obligation Bond D for Higher Education (GO Bond D).

Near the end of the ballot, voters will be asked to approve up to $136 million in vital funding without any increase in their property taxes. This is possible because the proposed 2018 bonds would replace 2008 bonds being retired after a 10-year term.

Bond D funding is earmarked for specific safety and energy efficiency improvements to buildings, technology upgrades, and critical improvements to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, the fastest growing occupations in the United States. At community colleges, bond funding will be used to grow high-skills, high-wage programs graduating in-demand technicians in the automotive, welding, and healthcare industries as well as upgrades to popular programs that contribute to our quality of life.

For example:

• Bond funds will support Eastern New Mexico campuses in Portales, Roswell and Ruidoso, providing renovations to the Roosevelt Science Center, doubling the capacity of a welding-automotive facility and better utilizing educational space.

• The University of New Mexico will use bond funding to modernize a 65-year-old chemistry building on our main campus and promote synergistic learning and leadership through Phase I of a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) center. In Taos, bond funding will be used to build a College to Pathways Career Center to benefit students in Taos and a 50-mile radius.

• In Socorro, the New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology, or New Mexico Tech, will use bond funding to renovate Brown Hall, our main administration building that was constructed in 1929. We will make necessary safety and energy efficiency improvements throughout the campus that will also benefit the community.

• Central New Mexico Community College, or CNM, will utilize bond funding to relocate and improve art facilities, including a new kiln room and four new art studios, as well as make much-needed infrastructure repairs at multiple campuses, including energy-efficient HVAC upgrades, roof replacements and improved parking lot lighting for safety.

GO Bond Funding is critical because in many cases it is the only source of funding our colleges, universities and specialty schools have to make needed investments, renovations and upgrades in our existing facilities and programs.

Support for GO Bond D is also an important economic driver in many communities since it will create an estimated 1,300 jobs in construction, architecture and other related fields.

Additionally, GO Bond D funds can help us develop the capacity to attract top faculty and use state-of-the-art technology to deliver quality online education.

A strong system of higher education is something all New Mexicans should support. A vote for GO Bond D will prepare students and give them the skills and knowledge they need to become our next generation of leaders – without raising taxes.

Support your community, our students and a better future for all New Mexicans by voting yes on GO Bond D. For more information about specific projects around the state and how passage of GO Bond D will have a positive impact on New Mexico, visit www.NMBondD.com.

J.S. Elwell has been president of Eastern New Mexico University since April 2017. Garnett S. Stokes has been president of the University of New Mexico since March 2018. Stephen G. Wells has been president of New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology since July 2016. Katharine Winograd has been president of Central New Mexico Community College since 2007.

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