James A. Garfield, the 20th U.S. president, summarized our feelings about education: It is next in importance to freedom and justice, he said. Without education, neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained.
We seldom endorse tax hikes, but we hope New Mexico voters will OK, on Nov. 2, the semiannual General Obligation Bond for Education. Skilled and learned New Mexicans are essential to our communities’ growth and well worth these costs.
If the issue passes, property owners will see their taxes increase slightly – about $10 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.
This “G.O. bond,” as it is called, is not new. It must be approved statewide on a routine basis, and the taxes raised pay for buildings and other physical upgrades at New Mexico’s higher education institutions.
Question B on the ballot, it would allocate $95 million for the next phase of capital improvements at 17 state colleges and universities, including those in our region.
Eastern New Mexico University in Portales has the most to gain — $7 million for a new science center, $766,000 for its public television station and $1.1 million for other campus upgrades, including roofing, sidewalks and technology funding.
Clovis Community College would receive $500,000 for a classroom addition and $150,000 for infrastructure renovation and expansion.
Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari would receive $600,000 for classroom expansion and a lecture hall large enough to host community functions.
ENMU President Steven Gamble said his school has no other source of funds for its requested improvements. If question B is defeated, the university’s science classes must continue to meet in an inadequate building built in 1949, he said.
“We at Eastern believe that the citizens of New Mexico want New Mexico’s college students to have a first-rate education, the type of education that would enable our students to compete with the students from any other state,” Gamble said. “It takes adequate facilities and equipment to enable this to happen, and bond B is essential to our progress in higher education. We believe bond B is affordable and necessary to the well-being of higher education in our state.”
Clovis Community College President Beverlee McClure agrees:
“CCC continues to set enrollment records and in order to expand our services to meet the needs of our students and of our community, this funding is essential. We hope that the voters of Curry County recognize the value of CCC and ENMU to our area.”
In looking at the amount of project dollars we would reap, the totals obviously mean our communities also could get back not only the local tax share paid in this bond issue, but some added tax dollars. Having more taxes flow in than we pay out is a rarity, and while not always worth it, this time we believe it is. Tax increases are seldom welcome, but this G.O. bond is the right investment at the right time for the region.
For these reasons, we recommend voting to approve bond question B.