Additional road funds trimmed down in Senate budget bill

Politics - Government

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Like last year, the state has a lot more money to spend, mainly from the oil boom in New Mexico. Unlike last year, lawmakers won’t be funneling as much money toward road projects this time around.

Sen. John Arthur Smith, who oversees the influential Senate Finance Committee, said they’ve had to trim down money going towards roads.

“We’ve got several problems with roads, quite frankly,” said Sen. Smith (D-Deming). “Number one, we’re using non-recurring dollars which we’ll trim that and drop that into operating reserve.”

The House budget bill sets aside roughly $250 million for roads as one-time spending on top of the recurring budget. As the recurring budget grows again, the Senate’s version only calls for about $180 million in one-time spending on roads. Senators are looking at shifting that extra money toward the state’s operational reserves, which keeps the budget afloat if revenues take a hit.

“As much money as we bring in, it’s never going to be enough,” said Sen. William Burt (R-Alamogordo). “Please be cautious about the requests and how we spend that money because the bottom line is, it’s the taxpayer’s dollars.”

Senators said after making that cut and re-distributing the money, it would put the reserves back at $2 billion.

Of course, the budget change still has to be approved by the House.

A bill is working its way through the Senate that would redirect more than $100 million from the state’s tax on car sales from the general fund to road projects.

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