Updated: Friday, 23 Apr 2010, 5:09 PM MDT
Published : Tuesday, 23 Feb 2010, 11:18 PM MST
SANTA FE (KRQE) - Even though the state is facing a massive budget shortfall, some lawmakers are still seeking $40-60 million for special projects in their districts.
Sen. Carlos Cisneros tops the list of lawmakers requesting capital outlay projects this year.
The Democrat from Questa wants to do everything from improving a senior center pool in Tierra Amarilla, to buying office furniture for a District Attorney's office, to building a baseball field in Ojo Caliente.
The price tag for all his requests is $66 million.
“The needs are still out there, I'm merely honoring the requests of my constituents,” he said.
Sen. Pete Campos' constituents weren't shy either. He comes in second in the Senate with $41 million in requests .
Some of the projects on the Las Vegas Democrat’s wish list are radio equipment and toilets for the San Miguel County Detention Center and fixing ditches in his district.
“In today's climate the needs continue the infrastructure improvement, the facilities,” he said.
It's the same story for Sen. Gay Kernan. The Republican from Hobbs told the local governments and schools she represents the money just isn't here this year, but she asked for $38 million anyway .
“So many of those small communities like Tatum, Jal and Eunice, this is their only opportunity to get some state funding back,” she said.
Sen. Kernan and House members with pricey wish lists like Democrats Rep. Thomas Garcia ($48 million) and Rep. James Roger Madelena ($26 million) and Republican Rep. Dennis Roch ($16 million) said they just wanted to get on record with the requests for when there is money.
“So that when the money is available the need is already clear," Roch said.
A lot of lawmakers say the capital outlay system is broken.
The state usually doles out money equitably between lawmakers, but some legislators say there is not enough weight given to certain priorities or big picture planning.
According to the state, there are $15 billion in needs around New Mexico. Many projects just get funded little by little, so they take forever to complete or they just don't get done at all.
About half of all lawmakers didn't bother to ask for any project money, because they know this year it's a waste of time.
Session pushed back
Lawmakers will get a little longer break, as Gov. Bill Richardson announced Tuesday that he's pushing back the start of the special session until Monday.
Originally, the Governor said he wanted it to start tomorrow, but then decided to delay it.
Lawmakers wanted a few more days to hammer out compromises on the budget cuts and tax hikes it will take to shore up what could be a $600 million budget shortfall.