By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
Eastern New Mexico University officials knew capital outlay funding from the 2007 Legislature might be tight this year for the university, but the news that they had been left off the governor’s capital budget recommendations came as a hard blow.
Among the major capital outlay projects ENMU submitted through the Higher Education Department’s budget process were $1.875 million to supplement General Obligation Bond money approved this fall to renovate the Music Building. They had also submitted a $740,000 request to update the Natatorium and $740,000 for heating, ventilation and air conditioning improvements throughout the campus.
ENMU President Steven Gamble said it was disappointing that ENMU was the only four-year school without projects recommended by the governor.
“It’s still early and a lot of things can happen along the way,” Gamble said.
More than $87 million is listed on the governor’s capital recommendations in 20 line items. One of those is $2 million for infrastructure improvements at New Mexico Highlands University, a school of similar size to ENMU.
ENMU wasn’t the only institution that did not receive recommendations from the governor and the legislature will also be making a capital appropriation budget, according to Laura Mulry, director of communications for the Higher Education Department.
“The governor could not fund all of the higher education capital needs,” Mulry said. “We continue to work with him to see if there will be other modifications to the capital budget.”
Rep. Keith Gardner, R-Roswell, said he had discussed the projects’ omission with Gamble.
“I’m severely disappointed with the governor,” Gardner said. “The first thing they do is leave out one of the diamonds (ENMU).”
Gardner said he knows a priority list was used in making the recommendations. He said he would like to see a more subjective system such as the one used by the New Mexico Public Education Department in which it give facilities a score after inspections are made.
“It’s frustrating to see them putting politics back into it,” Gardner said.
A variety of other, mostly smaller capital outlay projects for ENMU are expected to be introduced by legislators during the session as well.