New Mexico considers budget bailout for museum system

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – New Mexico budget officials are seeking to ward off further layoffs and reduced services at a world renowned network of state museums and historical sites through a one-time accounting maneuver.

The Department of Cultural Affairs said Friday that lawmakers are studying a proposal to provide $1.5 million to the agency for the current fiscal year and the budget year starting July 1 through a complex swap of unused capital outlay funds for artwork at public buildings.

The agency oversees eight state museums and eight cultural sites that represent an engine of the state tourism economy, displaying cultural treasures from the story of Billy the Kid to international folk art. The agency reduced visitor hours and laid off 12 staff as its operating budget shrank by 12 percent this fiscal year.

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