Angry New Mexican here! It appears that our illustrious governor, Bill Richardson, with his sights set on the White House has chosen to hose our poor state for $10 million to enhance his chance at a presidential bid. The Albuquerque Tribune describes Bill’s proposal as follows:

“Richardson… said he will propose a $10 million stem cell package at the next legislative session. The funding includes $4 million for a new embryonic stem cell research facility at UNM, $4 million to hire eight to 12 researchers and $2 million to establish a nationally recognized training program for students.”

Despite the fact that it will give a momentary bump to his otherwise lackluster bid for the Democratic nomination for the presidency, Richardson’s idea is best categorized as flat out stupid when measured from the perspective of what’s best for New Mexico, nevermind the ethical implications of embryonic stem cell research. To start with, UNM, despite its size, is a lackluster public university with a near-open enrollment policy and anemic state funding. Though its size should put in in the league of the midwestern land-grant schools, UNM doesn’t even make it onto US News and World Report’s America’s Best Colleges (aka the top 100) list. For an best-and-brightest academic, the kind Richardson is trying to attract, moving to a place like UNM is the equivalent of professional suicide. The only researchers that are likely to take up at the new center either (a) already work at UNM or are (b) incredibly low on the academic totem pole.

If Richardson really wanted to blow a cool $10 million on UNM, he could start with the obvious things, like hiring more instructors to decrease the teaching load on the research faculty, or providing more in the way of scholarships for intelligent out-of-state students to come to UNM. But that would be sensible.

If Richardson’s $10 million tomfoolery wasn’t bad enough, states with reputable educational institutions (like California and New Jersey) are looking to sink more cash into creating similar institutes. This makes Richardson’s bid even more of an also-ran. That’s pretty funny, since it appears that that is precisely what Gov. Richardson is about to become in the presidential race. It’s a crying shame that it’ll cost New Mexico $10 million in the process.

Advertisements