The serious but pleasant-looking lab student in safety glasses and latex gloves says it all: “A vote for Bond C is a vote for me.”
Moreover, continues the young man pictured on the pro-Bond C website, it’s not just about buildings. “It’s about ensuring higher-ed students have the tools to excel in their fields and contribute to our economy. It’s about renovating old, out-of-date classrooms and providing the technology necessary to compete with other states – and around the world. It’s about bringing 1,400 new jobs to New Mexico. Bond C is about New Mexico’s future!”
As good as that may sound to potential voters, the pro-Bond C folks are taking no chances. Still smarting over the defeat of a higher education bond issue four years ago by the slimmest of margins, they are looking to repeat the rebound victory in 2012.
Higher education general obligation bonds come up every two years. This year, the scenario is essentially the same as it was last time. Like two years ago, the discussion is as much about what Bond C will not do – raise taxes – as it is about what it will do – provide $119.4 million for capital improvement projects at 31 colleges and universities statewide. The remaining $20 million of the $140 million issue would cover the cost of issuing the bonds.
There is no formal opposition.
According to the G.O. Bond for Education Committee, passage on Nov. 4 would create an estimated 1,400 jobs in construction, architecture, engineering and related fields throughout the state. The biggest beneficiary would be the University of New Mexico, including its four branch campuses.
At the main campus, the Farris Engineering Building would be in for a $20.5 million renovation that would include the design, construction, equipment and furnishings to house the chemical and nuclear engineering programs. An additional $12 million is earmarked for the UNM School of Medicine for the construction of a health education building with laboratories, classrooms and study space.
Smaller projects, ranging from $500,000 to $4 million, are planned for UNM’s branch campuses.
Central New Mexico Community College would get $10 million to re-do Smith-Brasher Hall on its main campus, bringing the total for Bernalillo County to $42.5 million.
New Mexico State University would be the second-biggest recipient, with $19.2 million of the potential funds set aside for renovations at Jett Hall, the Jett Hall Annex, Rentfrow Hall and infrastructure improvements. Branch campuses at Alamogordo, Carlsbad, Doña Ana and Grants would also be in for sizable projects, ranging from $1 million to $2 million.
The next-largest project would be the construction of a $15 million building for the chemistry department at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro.
Next on the list of big projects would be the $11 million renovation of Eastern New Mexico University’s Golden Library, transforming it into the Golden Student Success Center. Portales-based ENMU, the state’s third-largest institution of higher education, would also get $3 million for infrastructure improvements at its Roswell campus and $325,000 to renovate the main entrance at the Ruidoso campus.
Other beneficiaries would include Clovis, Luna, Mesalands and Santa Fe community colleges, New Mexico Highlands University, New Mexico Junior College, New Mexico Military Institute, Northern New Mexico College, San Juan College, Western New Mexico University, the Institute of American Indian Arts, Dine College (Shiprock), Santa Fe Indian School and Navajo Technical College.
Should Bond C fail, the average taxpayer would not save much, according to the pro-Bond C website. Property taxes “could possibly decrease by a very small percentage – about 0.01 percent on a $100,000 home, or an average of $8.27 per year.”