Editorial: Journal says vote ‘yes’ on three state bonds

Hundreds of construction jobs, economic activity and long-term investments in our state’s public facilities are on this year’s ballots in the form of three state bond questions. Voter approval of the bonds would not result in higher property tax rates because the debt service for the new bonds would replace prior bonds. Although property taxes would theoretically go down if the bonds were defeated, their passage ensures continued investments in our public facilities and much-needed economic activity during the pandemic.

Bond Question A

This would authorize nearly $33.3 million of general obligation bonds for capital projects for the Aging and Long-Term Services Department. The money would be used for 96 improvements at senior citizen facilities across the state, including construction and buying equipment such as furniture and vehicles.

The proposed projects for the Albuquerque metro area include $114,400 for renovations to the Barelas Senior Center, $359,200 for renovations to the Highland Senior Center, $370,000 to construct the Isleta Pueblo Elder Center and $145,025 for an expansion of the Rio Bravo meal site.

Outside the metro area, the bond’s top projects are $4.7 million to construct the Hillcrest Senior Center in Clovis, $2.8 million to construct the Pueblo Pintado Senior Center in McKinley County, $2.4 million to construct the Mary Esther Gonzales Senior Center in Santa Fe, $1.6 million to construct the Mariano Lake Senior Center in McKinley County, $1.4 to construct the Red Rock Senior Center in McKinley County, and almost $1.2 million for improvements to the San Felipe Pueblo Senior Center in Sandoval County.

The bond is projected to cost the owner of a property with a $100,000 asset value about $1.83 a year over 10 years.

Bond Question B

This would authorize $9.75 million of general obligation bonds for academic, public school, tribal and public library resource acquisitions statewide.

The proposed projects include $3 million for public school libraries, $3 million for non-tribal public libraries, $3 million for academic libraries and $500,000 for tribal libraries.

The bond would specifically fund the purchase of equipment, library furniture and fixtures, information technology projects, and broadband internet equipment and installation.

The bond is projected to cost the owner of a property with a $100,000 asset value $0.54 a year over 10 years.

Bond Question C

This would authorize $156 million of general obligation bonds to make capital improvements at 33 higher education institutions, state special schools and tribal schools. A full list of projects is at nmlegis.gov/Sessions/20%20Regular/final/SB0207.pdf

The bond’s top project is $30 million to construct a nursing and population health building for the Health Sciences Center at the University of New Mexico, replacing a 40-year-old building and providing for expanded enrollment to address the nursing shortage.

“We really need space to grow,” UNM College of Population Dean Tracie Collins told the Journal Editorial Board.

The bond would also fund $13.2 million of infrastructure upgrades, including wireless internet at UNM, and $13 million for site improvements at Student Services facilities at all Central New Mexico community college campuses.

CNM president Tracy Hartzler told the Editorial Board the current Student Services building was built in the 1990s and is no longer functional.

Outside the metro area, Bond C would fund projects including $18 million of improvements to science and engineering facilities at New Mexico State University, $10 million for the construction of Kelly Hall at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, $7 million for the construction of Roosevelt Science Hall at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, $7 million for the construction of Sininger Hall at New Mexico Highlands University, $5.3 million for the construction of a dining hall at the New Mexico School for the Deaf, and $1 million for infrastructure improvements at Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute.

Bond C is projected to cost the owner of a property with a $100,000 asset value $8.62 a year over 10 years.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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