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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bill aims to keep grads in NM with tax credit

GPSA members are pushing the State Legislature to pass Senate Bill 16, a bill written by the GPSA Lobby Committee which could help secure jobs for recent UNM graduates.

A coalition of senators held a press conference Tuesday highlighting a package of bills known as the Helping Incentivize Real Employment Initiative (HIRE Initiative), an economic package which includes SB 16. The Daily Lobo spoke with the GPSA Lobby Committee’s Travis McIntyre about his efforts to generate support for the bill.

Daily Lobo: What is Senate Bill 16?

Travis McIntyre: This is a bill that gives a $5,000 credit to companies to hire New Mexico graduates…within 18 months of their graduation. (The bill provides these credits to companies) in the STEM fields, which include science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health fields. Only 40 percent of graduating students stay and work in the state, and we realized there is a brain drain, so we asked, “What can we do to fix this? How can we get students to stay?”

The answer we came up with is to incentivize businesses. The higher education department is focusing on STEM fields, and we fit strategically into this model that is already in place. The reason they are focusing on these fields is they have the most growth potential in this state. This bill targets those areas.

DL: Why did the GPSA Lobby Committee write this bill?

TM: We came up with the bill, to be honest with you. Timothy Keller and Jim Smith are co-sponsors, and in all due deference to those sponsors … (they) have been happy to move forward with our idea. With Marc Saavedra, (Director of Government Relations at UNM), we brainstormed this brain drain bill, and there hasn’t been a bill like this before. We met with Sen. Keller at a reception where students and legislators met and talked to him about the bill, and he picked it up and…pre-filed it.

DL: How important is this bill, what have graduate students been doing to promote it, and how likely is it to pass?

TM: This is our priority. Along with other students, I’ve been up there every day since the session started, speaking with senators about the bill and trying to track their support. They are going to meet either Wednesday or Friday in the Corporations Committee to vote on it within the committee to ratify. … It needs to be voted on in the Senate Finance Committee (before it can be put to vote by the entire Senate).

I don’t want to speculate, but I feel pretty good about it passing. Both Democrats and Republicans think it’s good. It’s a high-tech job bill, it’s strategic, and it helps students.