A clean sweep for NM bonds and amendments: Here’s what voters said ‘yes’ to

By: - November 10, 2022 4:00 am

The University of New Mexico College of Fine Arts will be the largest beneficiary of general obligation bond 3, one of several bonds and amendments that passed by wide margins. UNM plans to spend $45,000,000 on building and equipping a center for collaborative art and technology. (Photo by Nash Jones / KUNM)

All of the constitutional amendments and bonds that New Mexicans saw on their ballots this election passed by wide margins.

But the language can be confusing, and they’re pretty far down on the ballot. Take a look at what each of those amendments and bonds will pay for or mean for New Mexicans.

Constitutional Amendment 1: Money for education

This election’s ballot asked a critical question to amend the state’s constitution with Amendment 1 and voters decided to pass the measure. Voters supported an additional 1.25% be withdrawn from the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund, which is about $150 million to early childhood education. Another $100 million will go to K-12 education to hire more teachers and support staff, expand programs for at-risk students, and pay for building maintenance and repair.

As of 11 p.m. on Election Night, “yes” votes comprised 70% of the total. More than 410,000 New Mexicans voted in favor, with 179,000 voting “no.”

Voting to amend the New Mexico Constitution this way allows for the investment money from a state trust in our youngest children and school systems. The Land Grant Permanent Fund is the second-wealthiest fund in the country, and advocates have pushed for years to use more of the money to address New Mexico’s historically low child well-being rankings.

The Land Grant Permanent Fund already disburses money every year for education, but this amendment increases the amount. (With reporting from Taylor Velazquez / KUNM)

Constitutional Amendment 2: The anti-donation clause

An amendment modifying the state’s anti-donation clause in order to allow the state to invest in essential services such as high-speed internet, water and energy infrastructure passed with 64.7% of voters supporting the proposal.

The Albuquerque Journal reports lawmakers sought the amendment to help households that lack access to basic services, especially in rural areas and Native American communities. The need for speedier internet became more apparent in the pandemic as students in some rural areas struggled to access online classes.

The clause has been amended six times since 1971, according to the Legislative Council Service. Those carveouts allowed public funds to be used for things like helping sick or impoverished people, local economic development, some scholarship programs, and building affordable housing.

Proponents say this latest amendment could help boost access to essential services, especially in rural areas. It could also help the state leverage more federal money for rural development, as other states have done.

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But opponents worry about things like state money going to build a road or water line on private property that is then owned by the property owner.

State lawmakers must now pass enacting legislation to spend the money on specific projects. (Megan Kamerick / KUNM News)

Constitutional Amendment 3: Judicial elections

Voters on Tuesday wholeheartedly agreed to let newly appointed judges settle in to their jobs a bit before having to deal with reelection, giving them a buffer year of sorts.

They voted in favor of Constitutional Amendment 1 by a margin of 69% to 31%. Nearly 390,000 New Mexicans voted “yes.”

This means these judges now will serve at least a year before they run in the next partisan election.

Some of these appointments are done by the governor when there is a job opening in a non-election year. It used to be that appointed judges served until the next partisan election – even if that election was shortly after their appointment.

Critics called the amendment a “free pass” and chafed at the idea of appointed judges potentially serving years before running in an election. But supporters of the amendment said it gave voters time to evaluate judges and would increase diversity.

If appointed judges are elected, at the end of their term, there will be a retention election. That election doesn’t have a competitor and it asks if the public wants to keep the judge on the bench. (Emma Gibson / KUNM News)

The bonds

New Mexicans have approved more than $259 million in general obligation bonds for schools, senior centers and libraries across the state, according to election calls by the Associated Press.

General Obligation Bond 3 was the largest and allocates nearly $216 million to public and tribal colleges and universities, along with schools that serve specialized populations, like blind, deaf and military students.

The state’s flagship University of New Mexico will see the largest share of the funds, and plans to spend about half of its $89 million allotment on a collaborative art and technology center for the College of Fine Arts.

Meanwhile, General Obligation Bond 1 also passed and will go toward building, renovating and equipping senior centers, including with ADA-accessible vehicles.

Aging and Long-Term Services Department Sec. Katrina Hotrum-Lopez says the largest project under the bond, the Gallup Regional Senior Center, is an opportunity for her department to better meet seniors where they’re at.

“We really, really want that Gallup center be the hub of us figuring out how to help our seniors in the way that they’d like, and living in the community of their choice,” she said.

Voters also approved General Obligation Bond 2, the largest ever statewide library bond, which means public and school-based libraries can expect a boost of around $19 million.

Statewide property taxes will not be impacted by the passage of this year’s bonds, as the Department of Finance and Administration says the current rate is high enough to cover the new debt. (Nash Jones / KUNM News)

Source New Mexico and KUNM News are collaborating to bring you coverage of the 2022 election. 

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Patrick Lohmann
Patrick Lohmann

Patrick Lohmann has been a reporter since 2007, when he wrote stories for $15 apiece at a now-defunct tabloid in Gallup, his hometown. Since then, he's worked at UNM's Daily Lobo, the Albuquerque Journal and the Syracuse Post-Standard. Along the way, he's won several state and national awards for his reporting, including for an exposé on a cult-like Alcoholics Anonymous group and a feature on an Upstate New York militia member who died of COVID-19. He's thrilled to be back home in New Mexico, where he works to tell stories that resonate and make an impact.

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