Days left in legislative session, lawmakers argue over budget

Politics - Government

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – With just a week left in the legislative session, lawmakers still need to take care of their number one priority: the budget. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of haggling over what to do with all that extra oil money the state has come into.

While the Democrats try to decide who should get what, the Republicans are worried it’s spend, spend, spend. “Its absolutely craziness, for a state that had almost $2 billion dollars in new money in the last two years to be in this condition,” said House Minority Floor Leader James Townsend (R- Artesia).

The proposed $7.7 billion budget is still on the table. House Republican leaders are launching a warning shot about over-spending. They point to new spending the Governor is trying to work into the budget like the $320-million early childhood trust fund.

Of course, it doesn’t settle the nerves when they see lawmakers pushing bills that propose things like spending $200,000 for a state-wide jazz fest.

Of course, not all of those requests will make it into the budget.

“For the last eight years, we cut government to the bone,” said Rep. Javier Martinez (D- Albuquerque). “That gives way to the Yazzie/ Martinez lawsuit, that gives way to the worst child well being in the country. We are rebuilding government and this is the only second session we are rebuilding government. The notion that we’re overspending, that we’re over budget is absurd.”

KRQE News 13 spoke with Sen. John Arthur Smith (D- Deming) who oversees the powerful Senate Finance Committee. The Democrat said he’s looking at cutting roughly $150-million from these appropriation requests to make sure the budget and the rainy day fund both get the attention they deserve.

A $7.7 billion budget would constitute a more than 20% budget increase from two years ago. The session ends next Thursday at noon.

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