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Morning Word: Quick, Buy More Scratch-Offs

June 1, 2017, 7:30 am

Lottery scholarship coverage plunges
New Mexico's lottery scholarship, which would pay for 90 percent of an in-state school's tuition last year, will now only be able to cover 60 percent. As lottery sales have fallen and tuition has increased, there have been dozens of proposals in the Legislature to rework distribution and base it more on merit or on need. None have passed. At UNM, the change means students have to come up with an extra $1,600 per year. 

Split the cash
If you want to win an architectural contract at the University of New Mexico, some of the state's leading architects say you'd better partner with an out-of-state firm. That's not an official criteria, mind you, but the majority of UNM's awards for $178 million in major building projects have gone to local firms who pair up. That sends taxpayer money out of state when the local designers say New Mexico already has the expertise to handle most of the work.

Here come the premium hikes
To be fair, the Word has no inside knowledge to indicate health insurance premiums will continue their rise on the state's health care exchange. But they've been ever-increasing for the 55,000 people who utilize such coverage. It's an uncertain time for the subsidized part of the program—that's Obamacare—and insurers begin submitting their rate proposals today to the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance.
 
A big stink
Santa Fe is a week into the cleanup of a sewage spill in an arroyo by the Presbyterian Urgent Care clinic and a preschool. The problem started with a blockage in a manhole by Christus St. Vincent Hospital. When crews unplugged that, a manhole in the arroyo overflowed with about 1,500 gallons of untreated sewage. The cleanup will cost at least $27,000. 

Save us from ourselves
When Gov. Martinez line-item vetoed nearly an entire revenue-generating bill (read: taxes) during the special session, she left an important provision that could eventually help the state during future lean years. It's a plan to boost the state's so-called rainy day fund by funneling some oil and gas taxes into a separate fund if they rise above a five-year rolling average. That could have boosted state reserves by more than $600 million over the last decade.

Casino axes Griffin show
Route 66 Casino west of Albuquerque has canceled a planned show with comedian Kathy Griffin following outrage over a video she released showing her holding a mock-up of the severed head of Donald Trump. Griffin apologized, saying she took comedic license too far, but it wasn't enough to save many endorsements or her job with CNN

New home for Santa Fe's July Fourth fireworks
It's the mall, yo. The city approved a contract with the Kiwanis Club last night, which takes over the annual Fourth of July fireworks and concert event from the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Fe. The Kiwanis will move the event to the Santa Fe Place Mall. Parking is now free, and the group plans a food truck court. Families should be able to spread blankets and have a picnic in the 11-acre Villa Linda Park, just south of the mall.

Warm weekend in store
Albuquerque and Farmington could hit 90 degrees for the first time this year as a warming trend continues across the state. That might not happen until Sunday, and there's also an increased chance of showers on Friday and Saturday. You won't hear us complaining.

Thanks for reading! The Word thinks few things smell better than desert rain. Unless it's falling in a sewage leak in an arroyo. But as a general rule...

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