Voters to decide on funding construction projects, mostly on campuses
Unlike countless other politicians, state Sen. Carlos Cisneros says government can create jobs and do so without a tax increase.
“Absolutely it can. We have the chance to do it now in New Mexico,” said Cisneros, D-Questa.
He is one of the legislative architects of three bond issues totaling about $140 million that voters will consider in the November election. Most of the money — $120 million — would go for physical improvements to higher education buildings.
“There would be no increase in property taxes to pay for the bond issues, but we would get construction jobs and brick-and-mortar projects that meet some of our most critical needs,” Cisneros, above, said in an interview.
How can the array of capital projects for libraries, senior citizen centers and college campuses be paid for without a tax increase?
Cisneros said the formula is simple enough. The amount of revenue from existing property taxes is sufficient to pay off the amount borrowed for the proposed public improvements, he said.
The jobs created would be primarily in construction and would provide a short-term boost to that sector, Cisneros said.
He sees no organized opposition to the bond issues.
“There is no cause or reason to oppose this because the projects have been vetted carefully and, most of all, there would be no tax increase,” he said.
Sen. John Arthur Smith, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the plan to pay off the debt seemed reasonable.
“I think it’s probably all right,” said Smith, D-Deming.
State Rep. Ken Martinez, D-Grants, said one snag for the bond issues could be the recent personnel troubles at New Mexico State University.
Without saying why, the NMSU Board of Regents authorized a payout of about $453,000 to outgoing school President Barbara Couture, who is resigning after less than three years at the Las Cruces school.
Cisneros said he hoped the NMSU controversy would not cloud the ballot questions.
“People can be mad at the regents, but they should not blame the students and others who would benefit from these bond issues,” Cisneros said.
Smith said time would cool emotions about the NMSU payout to Couture.
“The election is still four or five weeks away,” he said in a recent interview. “I don’t see where there will be any whiplash.”
If the bond issues fail, they could not be revived for two years.
“The process of picking and vetting projects would have to start all
over,” Cisneros said. “We would lose jobs, and students and seniors
would lose the benefits of construction improvements.”
The general obligation bond issues
A. Not to exceed $10.335 million. Would finance construction or improvements of senior citizen centers.
B. Not to exceed $9.83 million. Would pay for improvements to public libraries.