Last Friday, lawmakers in the New Mexico Legislature filed a lawsuit with the state Supreme Court against Gov. Susana Martinez to block her line-item vetoes of their proposed budget. The lawsuit alleges the governor violated the state's Constitution by defunding the legislative branch and higher education—removing roughly $779 million in all. Martinez has countered that the vetoes were legally valid because the state Constitution gives governors the authority to use line-item vetoes. Of particular concern for state educators was the complete removal of funding to higher education institutions. If the vetoes aren't reversed, college students at public universities could face tuition increases this year. But the governor says the funding for higher education will return in a special session. “We’re not going to not fund higher education,” she said at a press conference in Española. “We set it aside because I didn’t have a balanced budget. Since I didn’t have a balanced budget we had to set things aside. And then we’re going to put it back, of course, the higher ed and the Legislature.” Similar cuts for K-12 education caused Albuquerque Public Schools to announce earlier this month that sports programs in every middle school are being eliminated. The governor's vetoes appear to have been made in protest of legislative tax increases and spending.
Thousands March For Science at Civic Plaza
Civic Plaza was crowded last Saturday when nearly 4,000 science supporters gathered to march for federal research funding and scientific education at Albuquerque's March for Science. The rally was held before the city’s Earth Day celebration, coinciding with organized events that took place internationally. Marchers expressed concern about the future of science education and the Trump administration's attitude toward environmental issues. Some were upset because of Trump’s first proposed budget, which included deep cuts to numerous federal science research programs—including the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy. Others were angry with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt's choice to staff the agency with climate change-deniers. Organizers said they wanted government agencies to ensure science continues to plays a prominent role in the community. Similar pro-science events were held in Santa Fe, Socorro, Las Cruces, Silver City and Clovis.
CNM Ingenuity Receives Grants
The W. K. Kellogg Foundation awarded CNM Ingenuity with a $2 million grant earlier this month. CNM Ingenuity is a nonprofit that helps Central New Mexico Community College pursue cooperative ventures in technology and entrepreneurship, and the donation is going toward expanding the project. The money will be used for Ingenuity's various science, technology, engineering and math programs and will be shared with the University of New Mexico's Innovation Academy and Innovate ABQ. New Mexico Gas Co. donated $500,000 to Innovate ABQ last November, giving the nonprofit $2.5 million in funds. Mayor Richard Berry will be making an announcement this week about how the funds will be spent.