SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A few state senators are pushing for more behavioral health services, including a major project at the University of New Mexico. However, those plans are put on hold for now.

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Senate Bill 9 was tabled Saturday in the Senate Finance Committee during the special session in Santa Fe, but Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino says he plans to introduce a similar bill during the regular 30-day session in January. It would allocate $50 million of the remaining federal stimulus money to construct a school of public health at UNM’s Health Sciences Center.

Additionally, tens of millions of dollars would go to develop the program, towards salaries and for equipment to provide proton therapy for the cancer center. Senator Ortiz y Pino says the state needs more investment in public health outside of Medicaid.

“It would be separate from the medical school. It would have its own staff, its own building. It could become the focal point for all public health efforts in the state, and it could take the lead in driving initiatives and prepare us more adequately for the future,” said Sen. Ortiz y Pino.

In the bill, tens of millions more would be slated to expand behavioral health services statewide.