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KUNM News Update

Officials Say State Must Rebuild Reserves, UNM Regents Consider Seal Redesign


New Mexico Budget Officials Says Reserves Come FirstAssociated Press

Top budget officials for the state of New Mexico are placing a high priority on rebuilding state reserves that have been depleted amid a sustained downturn in the oil and natural gas sectors.

Finance and Administration Secretary Duffy Rodriguez said her agency has set a goal of restoring state reserves to 5 percent of the state's annual general fund appropriations.

Rebuilding reserves would shore up the state's credit rating to ensure low-interest borrowing and provide a buffer against economic volatility.

It is unclear how the state might set aside the money. State agencies still are wrestling with how to implement budget cuts approved by the governor and Legislature in October.

Rodriguez says it could involve more spending cuts and sweeping money together from idle accounts.

New Mexico Governor Offers Assurances On Health CoverageAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is offering assurances that people won't be left without health insurance as President-elect Donald Trump and fellow Republicans seek to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.

Martinez was attending a meeting of the Republican Governors Association in Florida on Wednesday where GOP governors discussed ambitions to overhaul Medicaid and health care exchanges that offer insurance policies.

Martinez said Tuesday that she expected people to continue to enroll for insurance using health care exchanges as long as it's the law and that insurance cannot simply be taken away. She said a transition to any new system will be needed ensure people are not left uninsured.

More than 250,000 people have signed up for Medicaid since Martinez agreed to an expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Ex-Albuquerque Halfway House Monitor Gets Prison For AbuseAssociated Press

A former employee of a halfway house in Albuquerque has been sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison for sexually abusing six female inmates who were under his custodial authority.

Prosecutors say 36-year-old Eric Trujillo received a 100-month prison term Wednesday followed by five years of supervised release.

Trujillo was arrested in November 2015 on a seven-count indictment charging him with aggravated sexual abuse and sexual abuse of persons in official detention.

Authorities say Trujillo allegedly abused the six women at the halfway house between May 2012 and March 2014 while he was employed as a resident monitor.

Trujillo pleaded guilty in the case six months ago.

Navajo Nation Lawmakers Proposes Funding For Amber Alert - By Mary Hudetz, Associated Press

Navajo Nation lawmakers are proposing tribal legislation to fund an emergency 911 system and expand efforts for a rural addressing system on the vast reservation.

About $850,000 of the multi-million appropriation in the bill would go toward developing an Amber Alert system — a move that comes in response to a kidnapping this year that raised concerns over the fact that the United States' largest American Indian reservation does not have its own system to issue child abduction alerts.

Authorities say 11-year-old Ashlynne Mike was lured into a man's van near her school bus stop on May 2, and found dead the next day in the desert south of Shiprock, New Mexico.

An Amber Alert wasn't issued until the morning after her disappearance.

University Of New Mexico Regents Eye New Seal DesignAssociated Press

Though the University of New Mexico Board of Regents has not moved to change the school's official seal, they have created a process to consider a new one.

Regents on Tuesday voted to create a process to design a new seal and gauge the cost of adopting it.

The university's current seal, which was adopted in 1969 and depicts a frontiersman and a Spanish conquistador, has been criticized by Native American student groups as being racist. Critics say the seal reflects the state's violent past toward Native Americans.

Opponents of changing the seal say replacing the symbol could be costly, especially when so few students are opposed to the current seal. Board President Rob Doughty says that despite tens of thousands of people being in the UNM community, only about 300 have spoken out about the seal.

Students At Albuquerque School Protest Trump Election Associated Press, Albuquerque Journal

Nearly 200 students of a private school in Albuquerque are protesting Donald Trump's election as president.

Albuquerque Academy students chanted "Not my president! Not my president!" as they marched off the campus in northeast Albuquerque and ended up outside the school's main gates Wednesday morning.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that some students held signs with slogans such as "Love Trumps Hate" and "Black Lives Matter."

Albuquerque Academy's website says it is an independent college preparatory school with instruction in grades 6-12.

Head of School Andrew Watson says the school's staff encourages engaged citizenship but didn't organize the rally or either encourage or discourage participation.

Report: New Mexico Struggles With Aging DoctorsAssociated Press, Santa Fe New Mexican

A University of New Mexico report shows that New Mexico has the highest percentage of doctors in the nation older than 60.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that despite adding 441 physicians to the state in the last three years, the average doctor in New Mexico is about three years older than the national average.

UNM Health Sciences Center Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Richard Larson told the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday that in coming years the state could see a shortage of doctors as they reach retirement age.

The study also suggests that aging doctors could lead to even fewer medical professionals in rural areas in coming years.

Snow Off To A Slow Start In Rockies, Delaying Some Skiers - By Dan Elliott, Associated Press

Autumn snow has been scarce in the Rocky Mountains, forcing some ski areas to push back opening day and causing some nervousness about how much water will be available next spring for the Colorado River.

But the first big storm of the season is expected to blow into Colorado and Utah Thursday. Forecasters say it could bring up to 10 inches of snow at higher elevations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the Colorado snowpack is off to its worst start in more than 30 years. At least eight ski resorts in Colorado and New Mexico have postponed their opening day.

Water managers pay close attention to the Rocky Mountain snowfall because it demines how much water flows into the Colorado River, the lifeblood of the Southwest.