SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Thursday, the state’s Legislative Finance Committee released its recommendation for how New Mexico should spend $9.44 billion. The total amount is nearly identical to the Governor’s recommended budget, and there are similarities in the details as well.
“The forecast for FY24 is for a second year of extraordinary income. We did a lot last year and we can do even more,” Rep. Patty Lundstrom, the LFC chairwoman, said in a press release. “It’s popular among politicians to talk about transformative change. A true transformation for New Mexico would be taking steps today that change our future. That means investing in programs with demonstrated impact, creating endowments that can generate ‘future funding,’ and
maintaining reserves at levels high enough for us to weather a significant downturn.”
To help you understand the hundreds of pages of fiscal info, KRQE News 13 pulled out some of the big picture recommendations. Here’s how the recommendations from the LFC and the Governor compare.
The Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) suggested putting $4.14 billion towards education. That’s an increase of nearly 7% compared to the current funding.
In her recommendation, Lujan Grisham suggested a similar amount, and both Lujan Grisham and the LFC highlight the need to increase services for at-risk students. Both budgets also recommend funding some form of additional classroom time.
The LFC recommends a 5% raise for educators. Lujan Grisham recommended a 4% raise. Both also suggest increasing educator benefits. The LFC recommends increasing contributions to educator retirement funds. Lujan Grisham recommends fully subsidizing healthcare benefits for educators.
Both the Governor and the LFC recommend putting funds towards educating more nurses. Lujan Grisham recommends a $7.7 million increase to nursing programs at New Mexico colleges and universities. The LFC recommends $6.9 million to fill in holes in existing appropriations to nursing schools.
New Mexico’s Department of Health – the forefront of New Mexico’s response to a wide range of issues, from pandemics to alcohol abuse – asked for $393 million in funding. The LFC recommends they only get $379 million, an increase of $25.8 million compared to the current budget.
The Governor recommends giving the department slightly more. She suggests giving the Department of Health $387.6 million.
Both Lujan Grisham and the LFC recommend boosting funding for alcohol-related public health measures. Lujan Grisham recommends putting $5 million towards reducing alcohol-related deaths. The LFC recommends $3.8 million for alcohol misuse and medication assisted treatment.
Both budgets also consider family planning. Lujan Grisham and the LFC both recommend putting several million towards family planning services. Lujan Grisham also suggested $10 million for a reproductive health clinic in southern New Mexico.
Both budgets recommend increasing the budget for the state’s Department of Public Safety. Lujan Grisham recommends a $9.7 million (6.5%) boost. The LFC recommends a $14.5 million (8%) increase.
The LFC suggests giving more pay to state police officers and other key positions, such as emergency dispatchers. Lujan Grisham doubled down on her law enforcement recruitment fund put in place last year. She’s now recommending doubling that fund to $100 million.
Both Lujan Grisham and the LFC recommend using some of the state’s surplus to boost pay for state government workers across New Mexico. Lujan Grisham recommends they get a 4% increase. The LFC recommends a 5% increase, noting that a number of state agencies have had trouble keeping staff. KRQE News 13 previously reported that issue was at the heart of enforcement problems at the Environment Department.
Lujan Grisham’s budget recommendation also proposed another round of tax rebates for New Mexicans. The LFC budget didn’t go so far. But the LFC does note that their budget “leaves room for tax reform and relief.”