SANTA FE (KRQE) - If at first you don’t succeed, try again.
It’s a phrase state lawmakers may be saying to themselvesas they head back to Santa Fe Monday for a special session.
They’ll try to tackle the estimated $600 million budgetdeficit and nail down a state budget.
The House and Senate failed to compromise on the budget duringthe regular 30 day session that ended February 18.
Legislative leaders negotiated for days before the specialsession, hoping to hammer out some of the details.
“Time will tell, when push gets to shove and we vote on itthat will determine whether or not we have a plan,” Rep.Luciano “Lucky” Varela (D - Santa Fe) told News 13Sunday.
House republicans believe the way out of the budget hole is tocut spending.
“Our folks believe very strongly that we need to look atthe base budget,” Rep. Keith Gardner (R – Roswell)said. “Really go back to the basics in the stategovernment.”
House and Senate leaders will present a framework for anagreement to the rest of the members Monday.
Sources told News 13 the proposal calls for a roughly 2 percentcut to state agencies; a 1.2 percent cut to primary and secondaryeducation; and higher education could see a 3.5 percent cut.
As for tax increases, we’ve learned that could include aquarter cent increase on gross receipts taxes, which works out to apenny for every four dollars.
Smokers may also have to pay an extra $0.50 on a pack ofcigarettes.
There could also be a change to the food tax exemption, althoughit is unclear what that will be.
New 13 does know at this point, lawmakers don’t plan tojust tax junk food and soda.
Any tax increases and cuts are not set in stone, nothing is atthis time, it all depends on the House and Senate coming to anagreement.
“If they don't approve, we may have to come back butthat's why we need to have the consent of the caucus,” Rep.Varela said.
Rep. Gardner believes tough times are ahead.
“I think it'll be very interesting and it's going to betough days,” Rep. Gardner explained. “[But] that's whatwe were elected to do, we were elected to come up here and maketough decisions.”
There is also talk of a low income tax rebate to help thosestruggling to make ends meet in light of those possible cuts andtax increases.
The special session starts Monday around noon.
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