Voters’ Guide

General Information

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Statewide Issues

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1 (of 1)

The proposed amendment came from a joint resolution of the New Mexico Legislature. The following summary is intended to help voters decide whether to vote for or against the amendment, which requires a simple majority to be approved. For background information and more complete analyses, please see

“PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE 2, SECTION 13 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF NEW MEXICO TO PROTECT COMMUNITY SAFETY BY GRANTING COURTS NEW AUTHORITY TO DENY RELEASE ON BAIL PENDING TRIAL FOR DANGEROUS DEFENDANTS IN FELONY CASES WHILE RETAINING THE RIGHT TO PRETRIAL RELEASE FOR NON-DANGEROUS DEFENDANTS WHO DO NOT POSE A FLIGHT RISK.”

Approximately 40 percent of defendants incarcerated in New Mexico are awaiting trials to determine their innocence or guilt. Defendants post bail to guarantee their appearance in court. Defendants who fail to appear lose the money they have posted. The proposed amendment would allow bail to be denied for a person charged with a felony who is awaiting trial if the evidence shows that the person poses a threat to the public. It would also guarantee that an accused person who is neither a danger nor a flight risk is not held in jail before trial simply because he lacks bail money.

ARGUMENTS FOR

  1. Allows judges to keep dangerous defendants off the streets.
    Judges could deny release to dangerous defendants who pose a threat to public safety. The proposed amendment would give judges the power to keep those who need to remain behind bars away from the community.
  2. Allows release of people who do not pose a threat.
    Many defendants incarcerated in New Mexico jails do not pose a danger to the community or a flight risk are held simply because they cannot afford bail. Being held in jail has significant negative impacts on defendants who have not yet been found guilty of any crime and on their families. Moreover, in states that have enacted reforms similar to the proposed amendment, there has been no corresponding negative impact on public safety.
  3. Cost savings to counties.
    Holding large numbers of people pending trial imposes substantial costs on the counties, which house the vast majority of these defendants. Some counties have spent up to half of their budgets on jails and correctional officers.
  4. Protection of basic constitutional rights.
    It is a fundamental right since the founding of this nation that people are innocent until proven guilty, and thus the state should have to prove why a defendant should remain incarcerated before any finding of guilt.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST

  1. Bond may encourage defendants to appear in court.
    A defendant released without a bail bond has less financial incentive to appear in court.
  2. Has possible negative impact on the bail bonding industry.
    The proposed amendment could cost reduce fees collected by bail bondsmen from defendants.
  3. May lead to the pre-trial release of more defendants.
    Any defendant who is released before trial could still commit additional crimes.

General Obligation Bonds and Taxes

A bond represents a debt for money borrowed by a government to finance capital improvement projects. The State of New Mexico promises to repay the amount borrowed, plus interest, over a period of time for each General Obligation bond that is approved by voters. The bonds are called “General Obligation” because payment of the debt service (principal plus interest) is a general obligation of the State and its property owners through property taxation. According to the Board of Finance Division of the NM Department of Finance and Administration, the specific amount of property taxes collected in a given year is attributable to a number of factors, including the amount of debt service required for existing general obligation bonds, the projected debt service required for the new bond issue, the latest assessed valuation of net taxable property, cash balances in bond debt service accounts, the date of issuance, and the actual interest rate obtained on the bond sale.

Based on the assumption that all four bond issues will be passed by voters, the property tax year 2016 mill levy has been set at 1.36 mills, which is the same as the 2015 rate. The State Board of Finance estimates that over a ten-year period, the four issues on the ballot would cost approximately $9.34 per $100,000 of asset value.

2016 Capital Projects General Obligation Bond Act

The New Mexico Legislature passed the 2016 Capital Projects General Obligation Bond Act detailing projects that would be funded by these bonds. No bonds will be issued or sold under the act until the state’s registered voters have voted upon and approved the bonds. Each bond is voted upon separately with a “For” or “Against” question.

Summary: The four 2016 bond issues ask for voter approval to issue general obligation bonds as follows:

Bond Issue A, in an amount not to exceed $15,440,000 to make capital expenditures for senior citizen facility improvements, construction, and equipment acquisition projects;
Bond Issue B, in an amount not to exceed $10,167,000 to make capital expenditures for academic, public school, tribal, and public library resource acquisitions;
Bond Issue C, in an amount not to exceed $142,356,000 to make capital expenditures for certain higher educational, tribal, and special schools capital improvements and acquisitions; and
Bond Issue D, in an amount not to exceed $18,196,000 to make capital expenditures for capital improvements and acquisitions for state police, public safety communications and national guard facilities statewide.

The total for all four questions, including bond issuance costs, is $186,159,000. A complete breakdown of the designated projects under each bond issue can be found on the New Mexico Legislature’s website:

More information on Bond Impact

Bond Question A
Aging and Long-Term Services Department

The 2016 Capital Projects General Obligation Bond Act authorizes the issuance and sale of senior citizen facility improvement, construction and equipment acquisition bonds. Shall the state be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed fifteen million four hundred forty thousand dollars ($15,440,000) to make capital expenditures for certain senior citizen facility improvement, construction and equipment acquisition projects and provide for a general property tax imposition and levy for the payment of principal of, interest on and expenses incurred in connection with the issuance of the bonds and the collection of the tax as permitted by law?

Bond Question B
Library Acquisitions

The 2016 Capital Projects General Obligation Bond Act authorizes the issuance and sale of library acquisition bonds. Shall the state be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed ten million one hundred sixty seven thousand dollars ($10,167,000) to make capital expenditures for academic, public school, tribal and public library resource acquisitions and provide for a general property tax imposition and levy for the payment of principal of, interest on and expenses incurred in connection with the issuance of the bonds and the collection of the tax as permitted by law?

The following projects have been specifically designated for funding by the sale of Bond Issue B.

Cultural Affairs Department: $3,000,000 for equipment, library furniture, fixtures and supplemental library resource acquisitions, including print, non-print and electronic resources, and for the purchase and installation of broadband internet equipment and infrastructure at nontribal public libraries statewide; and $750,000 for equipment, library furniture, fixtures and supplemental library resource acquisitions, including print, non-print and electronic resources, and for the purchase and installation of broadband internet equipment and infrastructure at tribal libraries statewide.

Higher Education Department: $3,250,000 for supplemental library resource acquisitions, including books, equipment, electronic resources and collaborative library resources and information technology projects, for academic libraries statewide.

Public Education Department: $3,000,000 for supplemental library resource acquisitions, including print, non-print and electronic resources, at public school libraries statewide.

Bond Question C
Higher Education Facilities

The 2016 Capital Projects General Obligation Bond Act authorizes the issuance and sale of higher education, special schools and tribal schools capital improvement and acquisition bonds. Shall the state be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed one hundred forty two million three hundred fifty six thousand dollars ($142,356,000) to make capital expenditures for certain higher education, special schools and tribal schools capital improvements and acquisitions and provide for a general property tax imposition and levy for the payment of principal of, interest on and expenses incurred in connection with the issuance of the bonds and the collection of the tax as permitted by law?

The following higher education institutions have been specifically designated for funding by the sale of Bond C.

Eastern New Mexico UniversityTotal $12,700,000
Community Colleges various schoolsTotal $32,350,000
NM School for the Blind and Visually ImpairedTotal $1,200,000
Highlands UniversityTotal $4,500,000
Mining and Technology, NM InstituteTotal $5,500,000
Military InstituteTotal $4,856,200
NM School for the DeafTotal $2,000,000
New Mexico State UniversityTotal $27,500,000
Northern New Mexico State SchoolTotal $1,000,000
University of New MexicoTotal $34,500,000
Western New Mexico UniversityTotal $5,000,000

Bond Question D
Public Safety

The 2016 Capital Projects General Obligation Bond Act authorizes the issuance and sale of public safety capital improvement and acquisition bonds. Shall the state be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed eighteen million one hundred ninety six thousand dollars ($18,196,000) to make capital expenditures for capital improvement and acquisitions for state police, public safety communications and national guard facilities statewide and provide for a general property tax imposition and levy for the payment of principal of, interest on and expenses incurred in connection with the issuance of the bonds and the collection of the tax as permitted by law?

The following projects have been specifically designated for funding by the sale of Bond Issue D.

Department of Public Safety: $7,000,000 to plan, design and construct a new state police crime laboratory and evidence and records facility, including expansion of the existing crime laboratory, at the department of public safety headquarters in Santa Fe in Santa Fe County.
Department of Information Technology: $5,000,000 to plan, design, purchase, install and implement infrastructure to stabilize and modernize public safety communications statewide.
Department of Military Affairs: $4,000,000 to plan, design and construct the Las Cruces national guard readiness center in Dona Ana County, and $2,000,000 for improvements, repairs and demolition and to purchase and install systems to improve energy efficiency and for staging areas at facilities statewide.