University of New Mexico students will receive lobbying training in an effort to protect a component of the Lottery Scholarship for the upcoming 2019 UNM Day at the New Mexico State Capitol in Santa Fe.
All students are welcome to receive a one day training session on Jan. 17 or Jan. 23 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the third floor of the Student Union Building in the Fiesta room.
The event, hosted by the Governmental Affairs branch of the Associated Students of UNM, expects upwards of 30 students to go to the Roundhouse on Jan. 28, said Libertie Green, the executive director of governmental affairs.
Green said ASUNM’s main goal this year is to protect a component that funds the Lottery Scholarship — the 30 percent mandate, which ensures 30 percent of lottery ticket sales goes to the Lottery Scholarship. This can mean an increase in award amounts if lottery ticket sales are high or a decrease during times of low sales.
“Every year (New Mexico legislators) try to introduce a bill that removes that 30 percent mandate — they did it last year so we are anticipating that they will do the same,” Green said. “Our goal is to protect that.”
Green said she opposes removing the mandate because this mandate allows students to get as much money as possible for their tuition, but low lottery revenue can produce lower numbers.
“If there is a year where there are lower lottery sales overall, then yes, the 30 percent mandate will get less money,” Green said, adding that there is uncertainty based on how well lottery tickets sell.
In 2018 a bill to remove the mandate was introduced by James Smith (R-Sandia Park). Instead, Smith’s bill wanted to award a flat rate of $38 million toward the Lottery Scholarship. However, the mandate would return if the lottery did not meet the $38 million mark. Backed by the New Mexico Lottery, proponents for removing the mandate said it will increase sales by increasing prize awards and in-turn increase game participation.
At last year’s UNM Day students met with Smith to collaborate on the bill. Student lobbyists worked with legislators to increase the rate of $38 million to $40 million, according to an article in the Daily Lobo.
After going through committee, multiple amendments and passing in the house of representatives, the bill died on the floor before the session concluded.
During his 2018 State of ASUNM address, former-President of ASUNM, Noah Brooks, highlighted that bill during his tenure.
When asked if Green would support a continuation of this bill, she said she would oppose a bill that cuts the mandate.
“Say one year, them giving us the $40 million flat rate would be more than them giving us 30 percent of their total revenue — the likelihood of that being consistent is slim to none. We would rather have the 30 percent mandate. In the future it is projected that we continuously get more,” Green said.
According to a report from KRWG, lottery sales in New Mexico increased by six percent in 2018. The report said this yielded $40.2 million awarded to college students compared to $37.8 million in 2017.
In March, former-Governor Susana Martinez, signed a bill into law that decoupled the Lottery Scholarship with a university’s tuition and allowed unclaimed lottery prizes to enter the Lottery Scholarship pool. This resulted in higher Lottery Scholarship awards at UNM, according to a report from the Albuquerque Journal.
This year, UNM’s goals at the legislature include:
- Supporting an eight percent increase in the funding formula.
- A percentage parity for UNM’s School of Medicine.
- $5.8 million for the UNM Cancer Center.
- Seeking to restore the Liquor Excise Tax to better fund the Lottery Scholarship.
- Compensation funding packages for UNM faculty and staff to offset healthcare costs and retirement contributions.
- $35.7 million in costs for Capital Projects and Research and Public Service Projects.
For more information, visit the UNM website.
Students that depend on the Lottery Scholarship, like Mason Martinez, helped lobby at the Roundhouse in 2018. Martinez, a senior majoring in political science, said it is important to get involved in decisions that affect students.
Martinez said that he noticed students are mainly focused on achieving academically, but "(UNM Day) showed me that being a Lobo is more holistic than that — it’s getting involved in the community and advocating for your school."
Martinez said the event hosted by ASUNM helps break down what to expect while in Santa Fe and he urges students to attend.
“Having students up there is one of the more important things because they’re able to tell their stories,” Martinez said.
Anthony Jackson is photo editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TonyAnjackson.