You might have read my message last week about the Legislature passing the state budget, which includes an 8.8 percent increase in state funding for CNM for the upcoming fiscal year compared to the state funding we received last year. Although this will be a very welcomed increase, we’re still going to receive less state funding than we received in 2008. In fact, we’ll be receiving $3 million less in state funding for the year ahead than we received in 2008. And we’re accommodating more student demand now than we were in 2008. So, even though we’re getting an 8.8 percent increase in state funding compared to last year, the coming year will be a fiscal challenge for CNM.
On March 21, the Albuquerque Journal reported an interesting, and sobering, fact – New Mexico’s cuts to higher education have exceeded the national average from 2008 through the current fiscal year. The Journal cited a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C., which revealed that New Mexico has cut higher education spending per student by an average of 36.7 percent, compared to the national average of 28 percent.
This is troubling, especially since New Mexico is showing few signs of a robust economic recovery in the near future.
CNM has three sources of revenue – state appropriations, CNM’s mill levy (property taxes from the CNM District), and tuition and fees. State appropriations used to be our largest source of funding, but now each of the three revenue sources make up about a third of our funding. CNM’s mill levy will remain flat again this year and our enrollment has been trending slightly downward the last couple years.
We all hope that our state funding will continue to increase in the years ahead, but that is far from a given. Actually, if you pay attention to a lot of studies and forecasts out there, we may never get back to the same level of state funding we grew accustomed to in the decade or so prior to 2009.
We can hope, and we need to hope. But we also need contingency plans for the possibility that our state funding never rebounds to pre-2009 levels, or at least the possibility that it doesn’t rebound in the near future.
Should we consider exploring new ways to generate revenue? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so let’s have a discussion. Don’t be shy. Let me know what you think!