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Salary forecast promising

Gordon optimistic about Legislature's repsonse to UNM

UNM President Bill Gordon told the Board of Regents Tuesday that he is optimistic at how smoothly this year's legislative process is going.

"This is the first year I can remember where we have earned such support for budget and legislative priorities," Gordon said.

He told the group during its monthly meeting that the state House of Representatives Appropriations Committee had preliminarily decided to approve the University's 7 percent staff and faculty salary compensation plan last week. He added that University representatives testified before the state Senate Finance Committee, which has not voted on UNM funding.

Earlier this year the University compiled its legislative priorities and its ongoing salary compensation plan, which would help bring faculty and staff salaries in line with their peers, topped the list. Gordon said the University also was pleased by the reception of its other two other major priorities - adjustments to the state's tuition and salary formulas.

The tuition formula is not in line with the cost of educating UNM students. The salary formula does not take employees from offices such as human resources into account when calculating the funding needed to give an across-the-board staff pay raise.

"The state also doesn't take into account the funding difference caused when the University has opted to pay those increases by raising tuition or cutting from other parts of our budget," he said. "We've had to compensate because their 7 percent increase really only correlates to a 5.5 percent increase."

The House and Senate budget committees each craft versions of Senate and House Bill Two, which are the main budget bills for state institutions. Funding for the University can come in the form of other special projects bills, but the bulk of the appropriations come from House or Senate Bill Two.

The bill has to make it through committee and floor debates, conference committees and governor's approval or override of his veto before the University sees its funding.

"It's a tough process and can drive you nuts, but I am so proud that our proposals haven't been chopped yet and that we're making considerable gains," Gordon said.

Gordon added that the University's presentations about UNM's economic impact statewide were well received.

Jennifer Liu, president of the Associated Students of UNM, said that the undergraduate student government is chartering a bus to Santa Fe Feb. 26 for Student Day at the Legislature.

Liu said the bus, which can seat 46 students, will leave UNM at about 8 a.m. so that the group can hear an opening speech by the Associated Students of New Mexico president at 9 a.m. in the Roundhouse. She said one person from the Senate and one from the House of Representatives will speak with the students.

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"After that, we hope to be announced on both the House and Senate floors so that we can make the students' presence known in Santa Fe," Liu said. "We do plan to talk about retaining the Lottery Scholarship, but we will also be carrying UNM's legislative priorities with us."

During the same meeting the Board of Regents unanimously approved the following items:

l An amendment to the ASUNM Constitution that requires that the Senate's budget process be completed by ninth week of school, rather than the eighth. Liu said the reason for the change was to allow the senators more time to balance the budget and review student budget requests.

l KNME-TV's use of a multi-year grant from the Public Telecommunications Facility Program Department to begin the public television station's transfer from analogue signals to digital signals by May 2003 in accordance with federal law. General obligation bonds, pending state legislative funding requests and a fund raising efforts by the station, will also pay for the project. Judy Jones, vice president for institutional advancement, supervises the television station's operations and told the regents that if the television station does not make the transition to digital signals by the federally mandated deadline, it will cease to broadcast because the analogue signal will no longer be receivable.

l A $744,000 purchase by University of New Mexico Hospital to buy 620 high-volume infusion pumps, which are key components of machines that transfer intravenous medication. The hospital will trade in new pumps for old pumps during the next two years.

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