Lawmakers, DOT officials make plans for $900M transportation budget

Politics - Government

Roads in New Mexico are in desperate need of repair. Tuesday, a House committee heard from the Department of Transportation and what it hopes to do with a nearly $900 million budget. 

Members on both sides of the aisle say their plans are right on par with what our state needs. 

This is just a starting point for how lawmakers decide how much and where funding for roads will be spent—and the ideas for that spending had no pushback in the committee. 

“I’m not sure but that may be the largest budget going in that I can recall,” House Transportation Committee analyst Charles Turpen said. 

House Bill 3 spells out how much money is coming in to give the Department of Transportation. About half of the $880 million comes from the state road fund and the other half is federal money. 

One of the biggest projects the DOT is proposing is in Eddy County to fix Highway 31. Then, there are a couple of I-40 road improvement projects in Bernalillo and Cibola counties. 

The DOT also says it is not asking for more money to add personnel because it already has so many job openings that it cannot fill. 

“The department reports a vacancy rate right now I think at 20.2 percent. it’s among the higher rates in state government,” Legislative Finance Committee analyst Connor Jorgenson said.

The DOT says it is trying to split the money evenly from fixing decaying rural roads to heavily traveled city roads. These recommendations could change before the bill hits the House floor, but improving New Mexico’s roads is something lawmakers in both parties have said they want to do.

This budget recommendation doesn’t stray too far from the governor’s road budget proposal. This bill passed unanimously in the committee and will move on to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee next.

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