UNM Regents Approve Nearly $3B Budget, Ag Secretary Tours Rockies Amid Farm-Aid Debate

May 14, 2018

UNM Regents Approve Nearly $3B Budget For Fiscal Year 2019Albuquerque Journal & Associated Press

University of New Mexico regents have approved a budget for fiscal year 2019 that climbs to $2.96 billion when including the main campus, Health Sciences Center and UNM's four branch campuses.

Spending on bond-funded construction projects and Legislature-approved pay raises pushed up UNM's total budget by 1.7 percent.

Health Sciences represents the bulk of the budget at $2.04 billion. The majority is the UNM Health System, including the $1.1 billion per year UNM Hospitals enterprise.

The main campus accounts for $866 million.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that UNM's budget reflects a tuition increase already approved by the regents in March.

Students in 2018-19 will pay 2.5 percent more across the board, plus an extra $7 per credit hour on some upper-division courses.

The budget was approved Friday by the regents.

Agriculture Secretary Tours Rockies Amid Farm-Aid Debate- Associated Press

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is kicking off a four-state listening tour in New Mexico as House Republicans on Capitol Hill push for a five-year renewal of federal farm and nutrition policy.

On Monday Perdue was scheduled to visit Department of Agriculture employees at the headquarters of the Santa Fe National Forest and hold a discussion with farmers and ranchers at the New Mexico Statehouse.

Stakes are high for New Mexico as Congress considers a so-called farm bill that could include new work and job training requirements for food stamps. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides food aid to about one-fifth of state residents.

The bill would renew farm safety-net programs such as subsidies for crop insurance, farm credit, and land conservation along with support for rural development.

Hobbs To Begin Water Restrictions Amid Severe Drought- Hobbs News-Sun & Associated Press

Water restrictions are set to begin in a southeastern New Mexico city hit by severe drought.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports water restriction enforcement in Hobbs will start Tuesday to conserve water during what is expected to be a dangerous wildfire season.

Under its conservation period that lasts until Sept. 15, residential and commercial water use for gardens, lawns or other outside watering or sprinkling will be restricted by addresses. Residents and business face fines up to $300 for violations.

The city says more than 350 million gallons of water is saved each calendar year with the restrictions.

The Ogallala Aquifer is a shallow water table situated under the Great Plains and underlies parts of eight states: South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. The aquifer's depletion over time has been a concern.

New Mexico Candidates, Groups Report On Fundraising- Associated Press

Candidates for governor and other public offices in New Mexico are filing campaign finance reports that detail contributions and expenditures with three weeks left until the June 5 primary election.

Monday evening is the deadline for candidates and political committees to make public their fundraising activities during a recent five-week period. Candidates have unleashed ads on television, radio and social media amid early voting.

In prior reports, Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham raised the most contributions among three candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for governor, while sole Republican candidate Steve Pearce had stockpiled the most campaign cash.

Among Democratic contenders, state Sen. Joseph Cervantes and former media executive Jeff Apodaca have lent money to their campaigns.

Monday's mandatory report is the second of four linked to the primary election.

Alamogordo Seeks To Restore Lake Damaged By 2012 Fire- Alamogordo Daily News & Associated Press

A southern New Mexico city is working to restore an area lake damaged by a 2012 wildfire.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports Alamogordo City Commissioners approved last week a key $72,000 change order to the Bonito Lake restoration project.

Officials say the project required more signage along the haul route for additional safety.

Bonito Lake, used for drinking water and recreation, was damaged after the Little Bear Fire broke out in June 2012. The lake is owned and maintained by the city of Alamogordo but it is located in Lincoln County, just north of Ruidoso.

Nearby debris and sediment from the fire flowed into the lake after monsoonal rains caused heavy flooding from the fire's burn scar.

The debris clogged the pipeline that Alamogordo utilized as a water source.

Another New Mexico County Eyes Opioid LawsuitFarmington Daily Times, Associated Press

A New Mexico county in the state's Four Corners region is examining whether it should join other counties in suing pharmaceutical companies for the opioid crisis.

The Daily Times of Farmington reports the San Juan County Commission unanimously approved hiring lawyers to investigate how much money the opioid epidemic has cost the county.

The commission says the county will likely file a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies alleging they falsely advertised the products and did not disclose the addictive nature of the drugs.

County Attorney Doug Echols says opioid manufacturers used television advertisements for marketing and misrepresented the addictive nature to both doctors and patients.

Last year, the New Mexico Attorney General's office filed a lawsuit against major manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid medication for exacerbating the state's drug addiction crisis

Teens' Experience Shows Campus Reality For Native Americans - Associated Press

The experience of two Native American teenagers pulled from a tour at Colorado State University has highlighted the complications that youth from tribal communities often must navigate in mainstream settings, such as college campuses.

Nineteen-year-old Thomas Gray says he and his 17-year-old brother were shocked when they were removed from the tour in Fort Collins on April 30 after a mother in the group reported them to authorities.

Campus police say the boys were reported because they had been quiet. Yet for many Native Americans, much of the young men’s reserved conduct followed cultural norms often expected of youth — especially those taught in their schools and communities to be humble, as well as thoughtful about how and when to draw attention to themselves.

Colorado State says it wants to compensate the brothers for the seven-hour trip from Santa Cruz, New Mexico, to Fort Collins, and pay their way for another tour as VIPs.

The Grays haven't responded. The American Civil Liberties Union says it has been in touch with the family.

Chancellor, President Picked For New Mexico State UniversityLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

A two-person leadership team will replace Garrey Carruthers when he retires as New Mexico State University chancellor and president.

The NMSU regents on Friday announced the selections of Dan Arvizu as chancellor and John Floros as president.

Arvizu is a former senior U.S. Department of Energy official while Floros is dean of the Kansas State University agriculture college and K-State Cooperative Extension.

Arvizu will oversee the entire NMSU system while Floros will focus on the Las Cruces main campus.

They were among the top five candidates in a national search for the next chancellor.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that regents Chair Debra Hicks said she discussed the possibility of splitting the job titles with both men after the regents agreed Monday to take that approach.

New Mexico Reviewing Applications For State's 6th 'Racino'Eastern New Mexico News, Associated Press

New Mexico officials are accepting new applications for the state's sixth race track and casino license.

The Eastern New Mexico News reports at least two eastern New Mexico groups are planning to submit proposals.

The groups, one in Clovis and one in Tucumcari, last week stated their intentions to apply for licenses to establish a "racino."

The Laguna Development Corp. says it plans to work with Miller Cos. to form "L&M Entertainment" and apply for a license to build a racetrack in Clovis.

The Tucumcari/Quay County Economic Development Corp. has a similar vision for a racetrack and casino in Tucumcari.

New Mexico Racing Commission Executive Director Izzy Trejo says applications are due by July 30. A decision is expected by the end of the year.

Man Accused Of Badly Beating Girlfriend, Causing MiscarriageAssociated Press

A 25-year-old Las Cruces man is accused of severely beating his pregnant girlfriend, causing her to have a miscarriage.

Police say the 22-year-old woman said Thursday that two intruders attacked her in the home where she lives with Timothy Trejo-Vigil and his mother but that investigators determined that her account was a ruse concocted by Trejo-Vigil and the girlfriend.

According to police, investigators also learned that Trejo-Vigil had a history of domestic abuse against the same woman.

Police say the woman was 15 weeks pregnant and had experienced a still-birth from being beaten.

Trejo-Vigil was arrested and jailed Friday on suspicion of second-degree felony attempted murder and multiple other crimes.

He remains jailed and court records don't list a defense attorney who could comment on the allegations.

Congressional Candidate Says 'F--- The NRA' In TV AdAssociated Press

A Democratic candidate for Congress in New Mexico is using an expletive in television ads to condemn the National Rifle Association and inaction by U.S. lawmakers on gun control.

Albuquerque City Council member Pat Davis says "F--- the NRA" during the 15-second ad broadcast Friday by an Albuquerque-area television station.

KRQE-TV General Manager Bill Anderson says the station is not permitted by law to censor or edit Davis' commercial and must provide equal access to candidates.

Davis is competing in a six-way race for the Democratic nomination for an open congressional seat based in Albuquerque.

The winner will face Republican Janice Arnold Jones and Libertarian Lloyd Princeton in the November general election.

The congressional seat is open because U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham of Albuquerque is running for governor.

Autopsy Finds Pilot In Fatal Copter Crash Had Fentanyl In SystemAssociated Press

An autopsy shows a pilot had a low concentration of fentanyl in his system when his helicopter crashed in New Mexico, killing him and four others, including key Zimbabwean opposition leader Roy Bennett.

State medical investigators released autopsies Friday for pilot Jamie Coleman Dodd, co-pilot Paul Cobb and wealthy businessman Charles Burnett III — all killed in the January crash near Raton.

Bennett's wife, Heather, also was killed.

The autopsy didn't say whether Dodd may have been taking fentanyl for health reasons. Prior reports have not indicated that drugs were a cause of the crash.

The released autopsies show all three men died of blunt force trauma. Burns also were a cause of death for Burnett.

The autopsies determined that Cobb had no drugs in his system, while Burnett had alcohol, amphetamine and oxycodone present in his.

Laguna Pueblo Receives Funding For New Elementary SchoolAssociated Press

Laguna Pueblo has received funding from the Bureau of Indian Education to rebuild its elementary school campus that serves about 220 students.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall on Friday confirmed approval of $26 million to replace worn-down classrooms at the elementary school serving the Laguna tribal community about 45 miles west of Albuquerque.

Pueblo of Laguna Governor Virgil Siow said in a statement that the investment would benefit the community and its children for decades to come.

Udall and Sen. Martin Heinrich say the funding will pay for both design work and construction.

New Mexico Increases Funding For State Pre-K ProgramAssociated Press

New Mexico will pump in an additional $10 million into the state pre-K program for the next school year, bringing the program to 11 school districts for the first time.

The state Public Education Department announced the additional funding Thursday, opening up more than 1,500 additional pre-K spots to make about 6,800 slots available statewide.

The department says the state pre-K program will be present in 65 school districts and six state charters.

The state pre-K system consists of half- and full-day programs for 4-year-olds. Some programs are part of an elementary school and others are housed in separate facilities.

The funding increase will bring pre-K funding to $33.6 million for the next school year.