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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: December 8, 2003
Volume 39, Number 10

Board of Regents sets priorities for legislative session

Full funding of the Instruction and General workload (I & G) budget, a five percent compensation increase and no tuition credit increase are UNM's priorities for the 2004 session of the New Mexico State Legislature.

The priorities are set by the UNM Board of Regents and align with those set by the Council of University Presidents, but they differ significantly from priorities set by the Commission on Higher Education.

The CHE will recommend a three percent compensation increase, and a four percent tuition credit increase, among other recommendations. A tuition credit assumes that tuition will have to be increased to cover the budget. This is where UNM President Louis Caldera takes issue with the legislative method of funding the university’s general budget.

Caldera said he “will make it a priority to try to convince lawmakers not to take credit for a tuition increase in the budget.”

Caldera contends that university administrators and regents need maneuvering room provided by a zero percent tuition credit in order to set internal priorities for the university, and that they need some flexibility in setting tuition increases. Under the current system, the legislature essentially requires regents to increase tuition simply to cover the I &G budget.

The question of whether state taxpayers in general or whether students in particular should bear a greater part of the cost of running the university is a contentious one. Currently state taxpayers fund only about 18 percent of the overall UNM budget. Students, research grants, federal funds, donors and endowments all contribute to make up the difference.

UNM's other top I&G workload priorities are for the Health Sciences Center.

This includes the Compliance Program to enable the HSC to comply with federal and state regulations for health care; library resource enhancement and maintenance funds, which will support the acquisition of print and Internet resources for health professionals; and funds for the information technology infrastructure.

In addition, the Health Sciences Center is looking for base adjustments for Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Out-of-County Indigent Fund.

UNM will also be seeking capital project money from the state legislature. CHE recommendations are that UNM receive money for public television digital equipment upgrades for Phase 2, $9 million for the Centennial Engineering Center, and $4.5 million for biology building renovations.

Capital project money typically comes from severance tax or general obligation bonds rather than from the state general fund.