House could vote on bill to balance state budget Thursday

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – As lawmakers reconvene at the Roundhouse Thursday, the full House may vote on a bill to mend the current year’s deficit that the Senate passed Wednesday.

Wednesday night, senators approved four bills in a solvency package of an estimated $255 million. That solvency package, if passed by the House and signed off on by Gov. Martinez, would plug the $69 million fiscal year 2017 hole.

It would also put money into reserves that would keep the 2018 deficit at roughly $300 million, rather than $500 million, according to Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, who is the chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

The solvency package takes money from government accounts and school districts – a controversial move. In total, about $50 million will come out of educational funding across the state.

Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, was one of two senators to vote against the education cuts in Senate Bill 114.

“I think my colleagues made a huge mistake,” Sen. Brandt said. “They’re taking the easy way out… ‘We’ll just take it from everybody’ instead of making the hard decisions.”

Sen. Brandt’s sentiments echo Gov. Martinez, who doesn’t want to money out of classrooms.

Gov. Martinez wants to cut the salaries of teachers and state workers.

KRQE News 13 asked Sen. Smith if he believes the governor would sign off on the senate’s solvency package.

“All four of those bills passed with a margin of about 40 to 1,” Sen. Smith said. “And the governor’s request was that we had to be working together, if that doesn’t reflect working together, I don’t know what does.”

Sen. Smith says lawmakers are scraping the bottom of the barrel.

More stories from the Roundhouse:

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