Higher Education Department wraps up statewide infrastructure tour

Stephanie Montoya
Since 2019, college and university infrastructure projects have created 3,700 jobs 

The New Mexico Higher Education Department visited college and university campuses across New Mexico this July and August and heard proposals for new infrastructure projects as part of its summer infrastructure tour and capital outlay summer hearings process. 

“The New Mexico Higher Education Department and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration are committed to investing in infrastructure projects that create safe and inclusive learning environments for students while responsibly using state dollars and creating jobs,” Higher Education Secretary Stephanie M. Rodriguez said. “We were glad to once again visit campuses across our beautiful state to see first-hand the impact that higher education capital outlay funds have on students and local economies and look forward to releasing our recommendations for the upcoming year.” 

Secretary Rodriguez and New Mexico Higher Education Department officials toured facilities at Eastern New Mexico University – Ruidoso, New Mexico State University - Doña Ana Community College, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, San Juan College, Diné College, the University of New Mexico – Gallup, New Mexico State University – Grants, and Navajo Technical University.   

Under Gov. Lujan Grisham, $216 million has been invested in education facilities statewide at 28 public and tribal college and university campuses and three special schools. New Mexico voters approved $155.9 million via the General Obligation Bond for Higher Education in November of 2019.  State and local support of higher education facilities and infrastructure helps ensure modern, safe classrooms, labs, academic libraries, and other critical infrastructure at New Mexico’s public higher education institutions are maintained. Higher education capital outlay projects create one job for every $100,000 invested, or more than 3,700 jobs since 2019. 

The New Mexico Higher Education Department’s Capital Outlay Committee also hosted five regional hearings to review proposed funding requests from the state’s 32 public and Tribal colleges, universities, and special schools. The committee hosts summer hearings annually as part of an extensive vetting process for reviewing and recommending funding for projects which aim to contribute to a high-quality educational environment, address major health and safety issues, renovate existing facilities, and improve building energy efficiencies. Recommended projects demonstrate support of key metrics, including an emphasis on student enrollment and retention, workforce needs, asset stewardship, and energy and sustainability.  

“The opportunity to travel the state for the capital outlay summer hearings was a welcome change from the past two years. Hearing in-person presentations by the colleges and universities, having the face-to-face interactions, and touring college campuses highlighted the importance of what we do as stewards of taxpayer dollars in the state. Higher education institutions provide a vital role to their communities and to New Mexico as a whole, and the infrastructure investments made will continue to support student success now and into the future,” said Higher Education Capital Projects Director Gerald Hoehne.   

“It was beneficial to the Higher Education Capital Outlay Committee to be able to see and hear the projects at the higher education institutions. The ability to review and see the projects in person, both completed and requested, gave the committee a greater understanding of the investments made and the benefit of future capital investment at these colleges and universities. Several higher education institutions also had the opportunity to host while all school representatives were able to meet the committee members in person, which is something that we have not been able to do since 2019,” said Higher Education Capital Outlay Committee Chair Gerald Burke, Ph.D.  

The New Mexico Higher Education Department launched a new Capital Funding Request and Management System in 2019 for collecting, analyzing, and managing annual capital outlay funding requests from New Mexico’s public and Tribal colleges and universities, making it the first state agency to implement a system of this kind. The Department monitors projects year-round to ensure projects remain on-schedule and funds are expended timely.      

The Higher Education Capital Outlay Committee and the New Mexico Higher Education Department will release funding recommendations for FY24 later this year for consideration during the 2023 regular legislative session. New Mexico voters will have the opportunity to approve funding for $215.5 million to fund capital projects via the GO Bond for Higher Education on the ballot this November. Passage of the bond will not increase property taxes. 

For more information on the capital outlay process and funding for higher education, visit the New Mexico Higher Education Department’s website at hed.state.nm.us.  

Photos of the 2022 Summer Infrastructure Tour are available on the New Mexico Higher Education Department’s Facebook page.