Core funding for the health councils (primarily to support a local coordinator for each council) was provided from 1992 through 2010 by the Legislature, through the New Mexico Department of Health. However, this funding was suspended in July of 2010, as part of across-the-board State government budget cuts following the national economic downturn. Some of the health councils have been able to secure limited local and foundation funding to continue their work, while others continue to function on a largely volunteer basis. The health councils have proven to be remarkably resilient during this difficult period in their history.
In 2013 and 2015 the New Mexico Legislature appropriated funding to the health councils totaling $395,000/year, which was signed by Governor Susana Martinez and incorporated into the annual budget of the NM Department of Health. NMDOH staff work with the councils to conduct community health assessments, plans, and community programs and activities to improve health in their communities. However, in order to achieve their full potential, the health councils need enough funding to hire at least a part-time staff coordinator, who can help carry out the decisions and actions of the council. The NM Alliance of Health Councils will again work with the Legislature in 2016 to seek additional funding to make this part-time staffing possible. A multi-year evaluation of the health councils in 2008-2011 demonstrated that the health councils were able to accomplish a great deal more for their communities with local staff support.
The New Mexico Alliance of Health Councils is grateful to the New Mexico Legislature for the $195,000 appropriation in 2013, which we see as a strong vote of confidence and a significant first step toward restoring funding to the county and tribal health councils.