NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The powerful Legislative Finance Committee met on Tuesday to review the record budget that kicks in July 1. They discussed hurdles they could be facing in the near future and needs that have arisen since the session ended a couple of months ago.
During the 2023 Legislative Session, lawmakers and the governor increased the recurring budget by almost 14% to $9.57 billion spurred on by higher oil and tax revenues. Charles Sallee, the Deputy Director for the Legislative Finance Committee said, “The dramatic rise in general fund revenues over the past couple of years have provided opportunities for the legislature to make those types of investments that you weren’t able to make just a couple of years ago.”
Lawmakers provided more than $1 billion in tax cuts and rebates in the coming year and funneled more than $1 billion dollars into capital projects. Roughly 4,000 active projects are underway, with that number likely to rise to around 5,000 this summer.
The legislature also put away more money to brace for the day when oil revenue starts to dry up. Sallee explained, “The thought was to take that and set aside money for tomorrow when those de-carbonization policies really kick in and oil revenue coming into the state is going to be declining in the next generation.”
During the post-session review at the Roundhouse, lawmakers raised questions on how to use best some of the funds moving forward. One senator shared her concerns about the state’s developmental disability healthcare program.
“We know that we need to increase oversight or at least take some to address the issues that include some abuse, neglect, and the death of a client,” said Senator Siah Correa Hemphill.
According to Sallee, the legislature did increase the licensing and oversight program within the Department of Health by 33%.
As of a few weeks ago, the state had more than $3 billion in unspent capital outlay funds. As we’ve reported the costs have gone up on a lot of those projects because of inflation, labor shortages, and supply chain issues.