Mesalands gets help from Legislature

David Arkin

Mesalands Community College President Phillip Barry said he learned something during the 30-day Legislative session that wrapped up last week — being in Santa Fe is important. Barry, who spent a fair amount of time lobbying for the college during the 30-day session, said his work up north paid off.

“For us, the session was a learning experience,” he said. “We learned that we needed to be there. I plan to spend a lot of time up there next session.”

As long as the governor passes the state budget and legislation that throws support behind funding for a general obligation bond is approved, the college will be able to make numerous improvements to its campus.

Through the GO bond the college would receive:
• $600,000 for expansion of the college’s classroom space
• $88,000 for infrastructure improvements.

The bond will be voted on during an election in November. The $120 million bond would spend $98 million on higher education. School districts across the state would also receive funds from the bond. More than $16 million of the bond money would go for books and library resources. Another $6 million would benefit senior citizen centers. But the GO bond money isn’t the only funding college officials are hoping for next year. The college got additional appropriation during the session that would provide $100,000 for Mesaland’s Dinosaur Museum and $140,000 for its athletic programs. Barry said he wasn’t surprised, but rather pleased with the amount of funding the college came away with.

“I look forward to the governor signing those bills,” he said.

Tuition going up

Tuition will be going up next year at higher education institutions. The state’s budget has tuition increasing by 4 percent. The increase is expected to pay for operational expenses. But tuition at institutions could be higher than 4 percent. The 4 percent figure is a number the state requires institutions to raise tuition by. It’s not necessarily the increase the university will use. Barry said he didn’t know what the college’s tuition would be, but said community colleges typically don’t have to raise tuition as much as universities. Eastern New Mexico University in Portales is expecting to implement a 7 percent tuition increase.

“With the tuition credit, they are kind of encouraging us to increase tuition by four percent,” Barry said.