Press release: Governor changes higher education funding

SANTA FE – Today, Governor Susana Martinez met with a large group of regents, governing board members and post-secondary institution presidents in Socorro to discuss the state’s new higher education funding formula.

The new formula will reward New Mexico’s higher learning institutions based on outcome measures that reflect student achievement and preparedness for New Mexico’s workforce, as opposed to basing the allocation of funding on measurements like the size (square footage) of each institution. In addition, while the current formula funds colleges and universities based on courses and degree programs started, the new formula would be based on courses and degree programs completed.

“The central goal of New Mexico’s higher education institutions should be to graduate the students New Mexico’s economy will depend on for decades,” said Governor Martinez. “In an increasingly competitive global economy, this formula will help us deliver the graduates we need for the jobs of tomorrow, and it serves to intently focus our attention on the achievement of our students.”

Under the formula, institutions would receive funding for graduating students in so-called “STEHM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Health Care and Mathematics) fields. A recent study disclosed that New Mexico’s economy will require nearly 50,000 employees with STEHM degrees by 2018 and nearly 95% of those jobs will require post-secondary education and training.

“For the first time in the history of New Mexico, the younger generation is less educated than the generations before,” said Higher Education Secretary Jose Garcia. “This new formula is our opportunity to make sure today’s students are tomorrow’s successful employees.”

For decades, the New Mexico higher education funding formula rewarded measure such as student enrollment and square footage. This created a system where New Mexico taxpayers paid over $53,000 per completed degree, compared to neighboring Arizona, which pays $39,000.

Last year, in an event that was also held at New Mexico Tech, the Martinez administration announced that an agreement had been struck with the state’s colleges and universities to impose a two-year moratorium on the construction of new buildings, in an effort to curb the proliferation of new construction that had been occurring, at least in part, due to the incentive for increasing square footage that was built into the state’s current higher education funding formula.