New Mexico governor signs $290.6 million bond package, sending four questions to the November ballot

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed House Bill 308—a bond package totaling over $290.6 million—on March 6, sending four ballot questions to the November ballot. 

The bond questions would issue the following amounts:

  • $30.8 million for senior citizens’ facilities;
  • $19.3 million for public libraries;
  • $230.3 million for public higher education institutions, special public schools, and tribal schools; and
  • $10.3 million for public safety radio systems modernization.

Bond issues require a simple majority vote in each legislative chamber during one legislative session and the governor’s signature to appear on the ballot. The governor can use a partial veto to remove projects from bond legislation. General obligation bonds also require voter approval.

HB 308 was approved unanimously in both chambers in February.

New Mexico voters last approved a bond package at the 2022 general election. The $259.7 million package funded senior citizen facilities, public libraries, and public education. The three questions were approved with at least 61% of the vote.

Since 1995, New Mexico voters have decided on 48 bond questions—approving 43 and defeating five. Two measures totaling $1.6 million were defeated in 1998; one measure was defeated in 2000 which would have issued $26.2 million for state facilities and equipment; one was defeated in 2002 which would have also issued $6.6 million for state facilities and equipment; and another was defeated in 2010 which would have issued $155 million for higher education in the state. These five bond measures failed with an average “no” vote of 56.6%.

As of Feb. 2024, New Mexico had $643.2 million in debt from general obligation bonds. Using population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the general obligation bond debt per New Mexican resident is $304.20.

New Mexico voters will also be deciding on four other constitutional amendments on Nov. 5. The ballot questions address:

  • Proportionally applying the disabled veteran property tax exemption according to a veteran’s disability rating
  • Increasing the property tax exemption for veterans from $4,000 to $10,000, adjusted annually for inflation
  • Authorizing the dean of the University of New Mexico Law School to appoint a designee to chair the judicial nomination commission
  • Authorizing the board of county commissioners to set county officer salaries rather than the state legislature