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The capital outlay bill signed last week by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham includes more than $28 million in funding for projects in Doña Ana County, as well as millions for other projects in southern New Mexico.
The bill funds more than $511 million in projects throughout the state, including roughly $64 million for water and wastewater improvements, $53 million for roads, $49 million for higher education, $48 million for public safety and $8 million for acequias, dams and ditches. There is also $12.5 million to support Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) projects and $10 million for health facilities and prisons.
Lujan Grisham used her line-item veto authority to strike less than two percent of the projects included in the bill, explaining in a news release that that the projects she vetoed lacked proper planning, had unused funds from previous years or were not large enough to qualify for capital appropriation.
“Capital funds should be targeted toward well-considered and more significant infrastructure projects, and not relatively small pork items,” the news release stated.
In Doña Ana County, the most significant appropriations this year include $3.125 million for a county flood diversion project, $3 million to repair the utility tunnel at New Mexico State University, $2.095 million for improvements to Sunland Park Road, $1.839 million for warehouse construction on the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope campus in Las Cruces, $1.3 million for improvements at the Las Cruces Armory and $1.2 million to the Lower Rio Grande Public Water Works Authority for a new operations center.
The money for the diversion project will be used to acquire property and to plan and construct drainage channels to the Brahman diversion channel, about four miles north of U.S. Highway 70 at Holman Road.
“That will help us considerably,” said County Manager Fernando Macias, who noted the county received nearly $10 million in funding, more than half of its total request this year.
Among the projects vetoed by the governor were more than $1 million for construction of a new state Department of Agriculture facility; $811,000 for improvements to the water research lab at NMSU and $350,000 for renovations to the Pan American Center.
Eddy County received more than $7.8 million in funding. That included just under $2.7 million for sewer-line extension on Old Cavern Highway, $1.5 million for phase two of construction of the Southeast Loop Bypass Road and $1.4 million for renovation of the Carlsbad Bataan Sanitary Sewer Lift Station.
The governor vetoed $400,000 for improvements at NMSU Carlsbad, which will soon break away from NMSU and become an independent community college, as directed in other legislation passed this year.
More than $9 million was approved for projects in Chaves County. The largest appropriation was $2.475 million, which will go toward sewer-line and infrastructure improvements at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell.
More than $3.5 million was approved for bridge construction on Riata Road/Pecos Road, topping the list of projects for Otero County. Other projects include $1.725 million for construction of a new Mescalero Apache public safety building and $1 million for replacement of the Suzy Ann Street bridge. The county received more than $11.6 million in all.
Lea County received more than $8.6 million, including $1.75 million for security and safety improvements at New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs and $1 million each for renovation of the Lea County Courthouse and an addition to the county detention center.
More than $1.5 million in improvements for the Ruidoso Sewer System topped the list of projects in Lincoln County, which received more than $4.5 million.
The Western New Mexico University-Deming Learning Center will receive $3.5 million for phase two of an ongoing construction project in Luna County. The county also received $1 million for construction of a new domestic violence and homeless shelter and more than $7 million total.
In Grant County, more than $11 million was appropriated for capital projects, including $2 million for improvements to the labor and delivery rooms at Gila Regional Medical Center. The county also received $1.52 million to relocate its magistrate court. Other projects approved include $1.4 million for improvements at Fort Bayard, $1 million for Bayard water tanks and $1 million for improvements to Little Walnut Road in Silver City.
Sierra County received a little more than $1.7 million in total projects. The top expenditure was $550,000 for construction of the Elephant Butte water system.
In Hidalgo County, a little more than $1.3 million was approved. The top project there was $500,000 for improvements to the Glen Acres drainage system.
This will be the last year that legislators will not be required to disclose their capital outlay allocations. A bill passed this year will establish a new public database where future allocations will be posted for each member of the Legislature.
Walter Rubel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.