The conventional wisdom is that in college you have to work hard and produce results — in other words, systematically earn your way to a degree. So it makes sense to take that one step further and expect those colleges in turn to work hard, produce results and earn their way to ever-scarcer public dollars.
The state’s Higher Education Department is proposing just that in a new formula that rejects a request from public colleges and universities to distribute an imaginary $32 million in new money. It instead keeps funding flat at $577 million — around 15 percent of the state budget — and has the institutions starting to earn part of their respective shares.
The plan has several smart qualifiers. Institutions of higher learning would be divided by sector — research, four-year and community colleges — so smaller two-year schools wouldn’t be going head-to-head with four-year research universities. (Proving size isn’t everything, the University of New Mexico would lose $759,000 next year under the formula — less than 1 percent of its total state funding — with $352,000 redirected to reward New Mexico Tech and $407,000 to New Mexico State University.)
The redistributions would be eased in, limited at least initially to no more than a 2 percent increase or loss.