BALLOT AMENDMENTS, BOND ISSUES EXPLAINED

BALLOT AMENDMENTS, BOND ISSUES EXPLAINED

The Doña Ana County Clerk’s Office has received several questions from voters regarding the Constitutional amendments and bond issues featured on the 2002 General Election ballot, especially how they will affect Doña Ana County. Following is a brief recap of the amendments and bond issues for the voters to consider prior to voting.

GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS

A five-part property-tax-based bond initiative appears on the ballot. Each part will appear as a yes or no question on the ballot. Those initiatives that receive a majority of yes votes will take effect within 30 days of the election results having been canvassed.

Part One of the Bond Act proposes $10.8 million for senior center improvements. Doña Ana County would receive $919,000 for improvements for various senior centers, including kitchen equipment, vehicles and facility improvements.

Part Two of the Bond Act proposes $93.4 million for education initiatives. If it passes, Doña Ana County will receive $13.25 million for improvements at New Mexico State University, delineated as follows: $9 for infrastructure renovation and expansion on the main campus; $3 million for Phase 2 construction of the Doña Ana Branch East Mesa center; $1.25 million for Phase 2 construction of the border area satellite campus; and $700,000 for infrastructure renovation and expansion at the Doña Ana Branch Community College main campus. Statewide, the bond provides $5 million for full-day kindergarten classrooms; $2 million for increased handicap accessibility to universities and colleges; and $2.3 million for technology upgrades at universities and colleges.

Part Three of the Bond Act stipulates $16.08 million in improvements to libraries statewide. The total amounts contemplated under the bond are $4.8 million for public library expenditures; $7.7 million for public school library expenditures; and $3.4 million for academic library expenditures. None of the expenditures for libraries are broken down on a county-by-county basis.

Part Four of the Bond Act will fund state facility improvements and equipment purchases. Of the $6.5 million dedicated statewide, none is specifically earmarked for Doña Ana County, although $1 million is targeted toward statewide armory rehabilitation and renovation projects.

Part Five of the Bond Act is dedicated to $13 million in water projects, none of which specifically mentions Doña Ana County. The bulk of the bond initiative is a $10 million Pecos River Compact water rights purchase.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

Each proposed amendment will appear as a yes or no question on the ballot. Those that receive a majority of yes votes will take effect upon successful canvassing of the election results.

Amendment One proposes an additional property tax exemption of $2,000 for honorably discharged veterans of the United States Armed Services who served during an armed conflict. The exemption will phase in over four years at the rate of $500 per year through 2006, at which time the exemption for affected individuals will total $4,000. The exemption amount is subtracted from the assessed value of the homeowner’s property.

Amendment Two proposes establishes 18 years as the age of eligibility to vote in New Mexico, in conformance with federal law. Amendment Two also proposes removal of language from the state Constitution which prohibits “idiots” and “insane persons” from voting.

Amendment Three proposes to repeal the section of the Constitution that delineates and sets boundaries for the state’s 13 judicial districts, thereby addressing a conflict in language between different sections of the Constitution.

Amendment Four proposes to repeal language in the Constitution that prohibits aliens, or corporations controlled by aliens, who are not eligible to become citizens from acquiring any interest in real property in New Mexico.

Amendment Five proposes two changes an existing provision for property tax exemptions. The first allows a totally disabled veteran to claim complete property tax exemption without proving that s/he has specially adapted his/her property to accommodate the disability. It also stipulates, however, that an eligible veteran must prove that his/her disability is a 100 percent permanent and total service-connected disability.

Amendment Six proposes to amend the state’s anti-donation clause to allow the state, its counties and/or municipalities to donate land for construction of affordable housing, including the donation of existing buildings for conversion into affordable housing. It also specifies definitions and procedures for such donations.

Amendment Seven proposes to designate the last Friday of March as a state holiday honoring the late labor activist Cesar Chavez.

Amendment Eight proposes allowing Vietnam veterans who have lived in the state for 10 or more years to be eligible for the state’s Vietnam veterans’ scholarship program.

Amendment Nine proposes changing the name of the New Mexico State Highway Commission to the New Mexico State Transportation Commission.

For more information, call Assistant County Public Information Director Grant A. Taylor at (505) 647-7290. Residents calling from outside the Las Cruces area may call toll-free at 1-877-827-7200 and request extension 7290. On the web, the amendments are available by pointing one’s browser to http://www.sos.state.nm.us/Election/02General/02GenInfo.htm