Friday News Roundup: NM Governor Proposes High-Tech Initiatives

Dec 20, 2013

NM Governor Proposes High-Tech Initiatives - Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has proposed spending $9.5 million on two high-tech research and development initiatives.

The governor says the aim is to attract top faculty members to New Mexico's colleges and universities and to fund innovative projects that have the potential to contribute to the state's economic growth.

Martinez unveiled her proposals during visits Thursday to the University of New Mexico and New Mexico Tech.

One initiative calls for reforming the Higher Education Endowment fund and appropriating $7.5 million to allow New Mexico's colleges and universities to compete for endowed chairs.

Martinez also called for $2 million to activate the Technology Research Collaborative, which would allow researchers from the national labs and New Mexico's colleges and universities to team up and compete for funding.

NM In For Another Dose Of Winter Weather - Associated Press

Parts of New Mexico will be in for another round of winter weather this weekend.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque say the system could bring moderate snow to the southwest and south-central mountains overnight Friday and into Saturday.

The central mountain chain and areas along the Continental Divide could see lighter snowfall, while cold air spreading south could result in accumulating snow across lower elevations of the northeast on Saturday.

Temperatures are expected to be anywhere from 5 to 15 degrees below normal.

Forecasters and state and federal water managers who met Thursday to discuss drought conditions say precipitation for much of the state so far this month ranges from half to normal. However, some areas in far eastern and western New Mexico have received little moisture.

Feds Detail New Mexico's Energy Profile - Associated Press

Federal energy experts say New Mexico's petroleum and natural gas production make the state the third largest net energy supplier to the nation and there's substantial potential when it comes to solar, wind and geothermal energy.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration updated the state's energy profile this week.

The agency says New Mexico is second only to Wyoming in the number of producing mineral leases on federal lands.

When it comes to renewables, wind-generated electricity is a growing piece of the pie. New Mexico has nearly a dozen commercial wind farms in operation and more in the planning stages.

The agency did acknowledge that with population and electricity demand small in New Mexico, solar and wind projects need more transmission capacity to reach markets in Arizona and California.

NM Court Denies Retirees' Right In Pension Case - Associated Press

New Mexico's highest court is allowing the state to trim pension benefits for retired government workers to improve the long-term finances of public employee retirement programs.

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled against retired educators who sued to stop pension administrators from reducing annual inflation adjustments for current retirees as well as workers who are eligible to retire but remain on the job.

Under a law enacted this year, retirees saw their pensions go up by either 1.6 percent or 1.8 percent instead of the 2 percent they would have otherwise received.

Retirees had argued they had a "vested property right" in their pensions and were entitled to cost-of-living adjustments previously promised.

The court decision was a victory for legislative efforts to improve the solvency of pension plans for public employees.