State’s failure to invest in public universities and colleges will hurt economy

March 19, 2013

CONTACT: Sharon Kayne, Communications Director, NM Voices for Children, 505-244-9505

ALBUQUERQUE—No state has made deeper cuts than New Mexico to its investment in public universities and colleges.

New Mexico cut funding for higher education by $4,775 per student when adjusted for inflation—the largest spending drop in the nation—according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That’s a cut of 37 percent compared to the national average of 28 percent.

Cuts in spending have led to a 22 percent average increase in tuition at a public, four-year college in New Mexico since the start of the recession. Nationally, the average tuition increase was 27 percent. Driving up tuition will only make it harder for the state to attract businesses that rely on a well-educated workforce.

“Business leaders have said over and over again that their companies need a well-educated workforce,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D., executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children.  “Yet, New Mexico has chosen to cut investment in this area, and the resulting tuition increases have jeopardized the solvency of our Lottery Scholarship fund. Without the Lottery Scholarship too many young people in our state cannot afford to go to college. This is not the way to create a thriving economy,” she added.

When the recession hit in 2008 and tax revenue dropped, most states—including New Mexico—relied heavily on spending cuts rather than a more balanced mix of spending cuts and revenue increases. As a result, many states slashed funding for public colleges and universities. The price of attending a public college or university has grown significantly faster than the growth in median income in the U.S. over the last 20 years.

“More jobs in the future will require college-educated workers,” said Phil Oliff, policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and author of the report released today. “For the sake of its economy and future workforce, New Mexico should start reinvesting in its colleges and universities now.”

The report can be found at:
The center is hosting a media conference call today at 11am MDT. More information can be found at:


New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities. Our fiscal policy work is funded by grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation, the WK Kellogg Foundation, and the Working Poor Families Project.
625 Sliver Ave. SW, Suite 195, Albuquerque, NM 87102; 505-244-9505 (p);