Santa Fe, NM- The Associated Students of Western New Mexico University were among the many organizations from Grant County to participate in the the lobbying session in Santa Fe, NM on Wednesday, January 24. Student Government planned to present their plans for Virtual Applications for the students of Western New Mexico University, while the WNMU Early Childhood Program planned to lobby for sustain funding for their program. The University also planned to request funding to Phase III renovations of the Harlan Hall Science Building, roof replacements and infrastructure, Information Technology Infrastructure as well as funding increase for Athletics and the Student Success Center. They also hoped to maintain their current funding and increase compensation for both faculty and staff.
During the opening conference, four representatives and both district Senators took some time so speak to the lobbyists from Grant County. After Evangeline Zamora, the President of the Grant County Prospectors, welcomed everyone, she turned the floor over to Senator Howie Morales. Morales welcomed everyone and expressed gratitude for the Grant County Communities electing him into office back in 2007 before quickly welcoming Senator John Arthur Smith to speak to the community members.
Senator Smith took a moment to mention his endorsement of Senator Morales in his campaign for the Lt. Governor position, then, due to his position as the Legislative Finance Committee Chair, spoke about economic development in Grant County. He also pointed out that Western New Mexico University was an “economic engine” for the community.
After Senator Smith finished speaking, Representative Bateman from the Dona Ana district introduced himself to everyone and spoke about his projects concerning net-neutrality. Bateman stressed that while net neutrality can be considered a world-wide issue, it has a large impact on rural communities such as those found in the Southwest, where the affordability and performance of the internet can be critical to low-income and middle-class families living in the area.
United States Congressman Steve Pearce made a surprise appearance and spoke briefly on ways to expand the economy, including manufacturing copper, building refineries within the state and even mentioned the development of private spaceflight.
Representatives Candie Sweetser and Rebecca Dow were up next and both mentioned their ties to Higher Education, with Sweetser working as an adjunct professor at Western New Mexico University- Deming and Dow voicing her support for childcare programs and specifically cited the WNMU Early Childhood program. The Early Childhood Program recently received a renewal for their accreditation after receiving several high scores on their evaluations.
Representative Rudy Martinez was the last legislator to speak, talking about the importance of medicare continuing to serve people and educators in both higher and secondary education continuing their professions. He also touched briefly on the Gila River, hoping to protect the water as a valuable resource but to also take advantage of the famed Gila River. He also expressed his determination to ensure that the state funding would be “distributed correctly.”
Representatives of Western New Mexico University also had a meeting with Barbara Damron, the Secretary of Education later in the day. The story on the meeting will be coming up shortly.
Additional Reporting by Brenda Acosta