Early voting in the state of New Mexico is now in full swing ahead of Election Day on Nov. 8. This year, the ballot includes three state bonds and three constitutional amendments that voters will decide whether to approve or not approve.
There are three state bond measures on this year's ballot. These are projects that are only funded if approved, with the funding coming through the sale of public bonds. The bonds would then be paid for by the state using property tax dollars; they will not mature until 10 years after their issuance.
Question 1: Senior Citizens Facilities Bond
The first bond question on the ballot seeks to provide $24.5 million in funding to improve 72 different senior citizen centers throughout the state. Voting to approve the bond would provide this funding whereas voting no would reject the sale of the bonds to fund the improvements.
Question 2: Public Libraries Bond
The next bond question deals with the approval of $19.2 million toward funding tribal libraries ($1 million), public libraries ($6 million), public school libraries ($6 million) and higher education libraries ($6 million) across the state. The funding would include purchasing things like books, electronics, furniture and various equipment.
A vote to approve would see the funding’s approval whereas a no would prohibit funding.
Question 3: Public Education Bond
The third bond question deals with $215.9 million to fund improvements for different higher education institutions, special public schools and tribal schools in the state. This includes $45 million to the University of New Mexico. The bill breaks down this funding for several projects at UNM including a new Center for Collaborative Art and Technology, a children's psychiatric center for the Health Sciences Center and improvements to several of the branch campuses.
Voting to approve the bond would see the allocation of funds whereas a no vote would not.
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Three constitutional amendments have been approved by a majority in each house, and are now up to a popular vote on the ballot.
Amendment 1: Land Grant Permanent Fund Distribution for Early Childhood Education
This amendment would give funds to support early childhood education (40%) and public school (60%) through the Land Grant Permanent Fund (Permanent School Fund) — revenue from nonrenewable natural resources like oil. The amendment would put 1.25% of the five-year average of market values from the fund toward those areas.
The legislative finance committee estimated $126.9 million for early childhood education and $84.6 million for public education for the 2023 fiscal year could be anticipated. Part of the fund is currently being allocated toward 21 different schools and projects, including UNM.
Amendment 2: Authorizing Funds for Residential Services Infrastructure Amendment
This amendment would allow the state legislature to fund infrastructure for residential use, including electricity, gas, internet and water. Currently, the legislative branch is not able to do so because of the “anti-donation” clause which restricts aiding individual people, associations and private or public corporations; the amendment would create an exception.
Amendment 3: Appointed Judge Elections Amendment
If approved, this amendment would alter the election process for judges: judges who were appointed, rather than elected during a midterm vacancy by the judges' nominating commission and the governor. Those judges would now be up for election during the first election following their appointment as opposed to waiting until the second election as it currently is.
Louie’s Lounge, located on the bottom level of the Student Union Building on UNM main campus, will serve as a voting site until Nov. 8. Election results will begin to become available after polls close at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8.
Maddie Pukite is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @maddogpukite