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Reports from Policy Analysts

New Mexico Budget Standoff on Higher Ed Funding

Submitted On: Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Analyst: O'Neill, Erin

The state of New Mexico is receiving national attention for the budget standoff between the state legislature and the governor.  The legislature passed a budget that included some tax increases.  In response, Governor Susana Martinez vetoed all the tax increases and then through line-item vetoes in effect defunded higher education as well as the legislature (AACC, 2017). The New Mexico State Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on May 15, 2017 to rule on whether or not the governor has overstepped the power of her office.  The governor insists that the special legislative session she’s calling will restore funding to higher education before the new fiscal year begins on July 1, 2017.  However, according to a recent New Mexico Council of University Presidents’ court briefing, “Some of the damage caused by the vetoes is irreparable. . . ”  (McKay, 2017).   

As an alternative to raising taxes, Governor Martinez proposed lessening the amount the state contributes to employee pensions and “suspending spending on infrastructure” (AACC, 2017).  A July 2016 article from the Albuquerque Journal said that 415 NMSU positions, including many faculty positions, have already been cut in order to avoid tuition hikes in 2017 (Villagran, 2016).  Likewise, in 2016, UNM froze hiring and implemented a “more stringent review before hiring new faculty,” cutting overall expenses by 5% in anticipation of upcoming budget cuts (Quintana, 2016). 

At this point, the state’s university presidents are worried about lasting harm to the state’s institutions of higher education, as students disturbed by the ongoing fiscal instability may seek their education elsewhere.  Ultimately, the ongoing budget stalemate and unresolved funding issues may cause indefinite harm to students, to faculty, and to accreditation of campuses around the state (Fain, 2017).   

Inevitably, more cuts could have a detrimental impact on the quality of instruction and programs in all areas, including general education, writing, and literature programs.


American Association of Community  Colleges. N.M. Supreme Court to hear state budget dispute. (2017, April 25). Retrieved from

Fain, Paul. (2017, April 18). N.M. governor vetoes all higher education funding.  Inside Higher Ed.  Retrieved from

McKay, Dan. (2017, May 5). Governor asks NM Supreme Court to uphold vetoes. Albuquerque Journal.

Retrieved from

Quintana, Chris.  (2016, September 14).  UNM to freeze staff hiring, cut budget 5 percent.  Albuquerque Journal.  Retrieved from

Villagran, Lauren.  (2016, July 14). NMSU cutting over 120 faculty, staff positions.  Albuquerque Journal.  Retrieved from

Academic Level

Higher Education


New Mexico

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