SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Officials say the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University face the prospect of major budget challenges because of reduced state funding and other fiscal fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and reduced energy prices.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that UNM likely faces a $22 million cut in state funding while New Mexico State will have about $20 million less to spend in the current fiscal year because of reduced state funding, revenue losses from lower enrollment and other circumstances.
The universities' fiscal troubles stem partly from spending cuts approved last month by legislators and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to help close a budget gap caused by the pandemic and falling oil revenues.
UNM President Garnett Stokes said it remains to be seen what the effects will be and that the numbers are subject to change partly because of uncertainties about possible losses of out-of-state and international students.
However, New Mexico State Chancellor Dan Arvizu said the anticipated loss in revenue represent enormous budget challenges.
In other developments:
— New Mexico state health officials on Saturday reported four additional COVID-19 deaths and 280 additional confirmed cases., increasing the statewide death toll to 569 and the total number of cases to 16,736.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The vast majority of people recover.
— Albuquerque has created a grant program to help restaurants, cafes and breweries struggling to stay open during the pandemic to set up outdoor dining space on sidewalks and in parking lots and other spaces, Mayor Tim Keller announced Saturday.
The $200,000 federally funded program run by the Economic Development Department will provide grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 to purchase or rent tents, Keller said in a statement.
“For local restaurants, cafes and breweries, this isn’t just a question of getting through a couple months of restrictions anymore, this is about bracing for the long haul,” Keller said.
— The Roswell City Council will consider directing the city manager to not enforce the governor’s emergency health orders and investigate options for legal action against New Mexico Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Five council members asked that the proposed directives be placed on the agenda for a special meeting scheduled Thursday for budget and year-end fiscal matters, the Roswell Daily Record reported.
The first item would direct City Manager Joe Neeb “to not enforce emergency orders issued by the governor concerning COVID-19 through any of the city departments," while the second would direct Neeb to investigate litigation options against the governor “for damages to the city of Roswell caused by emergency orders concerning COVID-19.”