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Senate gives thumbs up to $185.2M public projects package

SANTA FE, N.M. — A $185.2 million package of statewide infrastructure projects that includes money for senior centers, university buildings and libraries is headed to the House after passing the Senate today on a 40-0 vote.

The bill, Senate Bill 122, would be funded by general obligation bonds that New Mexico voters would have to approve on the November general election ballot.

Specifically, the bill would provide $134 million for university building repairs around the state, $10 million for libraries, $23.2 million for senior center renovations and $18 million for military facilities and crime labs.

The bonds are backed by property tax levies, but taxes would not increase if the four questions are approved, said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa.

“We tried to keep the bill at our capacity without raising taxes,” Cisneros said.

While the measure was approved by the Senate without opposition, Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, questioned why money for repairs and renovations of state-run prisons wasn’t also included in the legislation.

“The last thing we need is prison guards or prison personnel at risk,” McSorley said.

The general obligations bonds, or GO bonds, represent one of two separate capital outlay bills pending in this year’s 30-day session. The other bill, backed by severance tax bonds, is expected to be rolled out in a House committee by as soon as tomorrow.