New Mexico governor signs bond package for senior citizen facilities, libraries, and public education, sending three measures to voters in November

On Mar. 9, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed House Bill 153 (HB 153), a bond package passed by the legislature in February. The bond package authorizes the state to issue a total of $259,722,000 in general obligation bonds.

The bond package will appear as three separate ballot questions in November. The ballot questions will ask voters to approve the following amounts:

  1. $24,470,000 in bonds for senior citizen facility improvements;
  2. $215,986,000 in bonds for improvements to higher education, special public schools, and tribal schools; and
  3. $19,266,000 in bonds for public library improvements.

In New Mexico, both chambers of the New Mexico State Legislature need to approve a bond issue by a simple majority during one legislative session to send a bond measure to the governor’s desk. On Feb. 12, the state House passed HB 153 in a vote of 66-2, with two excused. On Feb. 15, the state Senate passed HB 153 in a vote of 37-0, with five absent or excused. 

New Mexico voters cast ballots on 28 bond issues, totaling approximately $1.4 billion in value, from January 1, 2006, through January 1, 2022. All but one bond issue, a 2010 measures that would have issued $155.57 million in bonds for higher education and special school capital expenditures, was approved. This means that voters in New Mexico approved 96.4% of bond issues on the ballot between 2006 and 2020.

Including the bond questions, there are six legislatively referred measures on the ballot in New Mexico. During the 2021 legislative session, the legislature referred a constitutional amendment that would allocate 1.25% of the five-year average of year-end market values of the money in the Land Grant Permanent Fund to early childhood education and public education. This would increase the total annual distribution to 6.25%. 

In its most recent session, the legislature referred a constitutional amendment that would authorize the legislature to appropriate state funds for infrastructure that provides services primarily for residential use—such as internet, electric, natural gas, water, and wastewater—through a majority vote in each chamber. The legislature also voted to refer a constitutional amendment that provides that an appointed judge be up for election at the first general election one year after being appointed. 

Between 1995 and 2020, voters approved 87% (89 of 102) and rejected 13% (13 of 102) of the ballot measures that appeared on New Mexico ballots.

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