SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Today, legislators will tackle a big problem in our state: a shortage of nurses. Today, Thursday January 27, legislators will hear from a panel of nurses and experts. Then, later in the day, budget presentations will continue. The Border Authority, Economic Development Department, and the Spaceport Authority are set to speak.

Last year, New Mexico hospitals asked the Legislature for help during a nursing shortage. At the time, KRQE News 13 reported that nurses were leaving their jobs for better paid jobs as traveling nurses. As a result, Presbyterian was reporting more than 500 vacant positions.

Now, the Senate Finance Committee will hear more ideas on how to address the shortage. Those scheduled to speak include nurses, such as Alexa Doig, a registered nurse and the director of the School of Nursing at New Mexico State University.

In addition, several other committees will meet throughout the day. Here are some key things to look out for.

Spaceport and other budgets

  • Today, Thursday January 27, several government agencies will make budget presentations to the Senate Finance Committee.
  • The Spaceport Authority, which operates Spaceport America near White Sands, NM, will present in the afternoon. In August of 2021, they discussed a $2 million budget deficit and plans to ask the Legislature for funds.
  • Last year, the Spaceport Authority told legislators that about $6.8 million of their $10.9 million budget comes from customer revenue, such as fees, leases, and fuel sales.
  • This session, representatives Matthew McQueen (D-Lamy, Edgewood, & Mountainair) and Jason C. Harper (R-Rio Rancho) introduced House Bill 72, which would clarify that spaceflight ticket sales are not eligible for a gross receipts tax deduction. In other words, businesses cannot deduct ticket sales from their taxes. The cost of launching, operating, and recovering space vehicles would still be tax-deducible.

Environmental bills

  • Today, Thursday January 27, the Senate Conservation Committee will discuss several pieces of legislation related to New Mexico’s environment.
  • After an update from the Governor’s Senior Water Advisor, Mike Hamman, the committee will discuss Senate Bill 53, which would send $10 million to New Mexico State University in order to operate the school’s 12 Agricultural Experiment Station science centers. According to the university, the system of 12 research locations is designed to allow for applied research that would enhance agriculture and protect the environment.
  • The legislators will also discuss Senate Bill 72, which would give nearly $15 million to New Mexico State University to establish a “center for dryland resistance.” The research supported by the program would involve several New Mexico schools collaborating on how to manage New Mexico’s drylands.
  • Several other pieces of legislation are also on the agenda, including funds to train volunteer firefighters in the Tajique and Torreon land grant-mercedes fire departments.

Indigenous wisdom program

  • Today, Thursday January 27, the Indian, Rural & Cultural Affairs Committee will meet to discuss legislation.
  • They’ll consider Senate Bill 97, which would give $500,000 to update and expand the indigenous wisdom curriculum project at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) in Albuquerque. According to the IPCC’s website, the program “aims to strengthen the identity of Native American children in New Mexico by providing comprehensive K–12 unit plans on the complex political, social, cultural, and economic history of the Pueblo nations of New Mexico between 1912 and 2012.”