Lawmakers focus on more money for reserve funds

Politics - Government

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The battle over the budget is still the talk of the Roundhouse. Now, some lawmakers are setting their sights on New Mexico’s rainy day fund to make sure the state can keep funding it’s expanded budget.

Democratic Representative Patricia Lundstrom (D- Gallup), who has a strong voice in putting together the state budget, said her bill could strengthen emergency funds for unexpected disasters like fires, floods and tornados.

“What we’re trying to establish is a good government accounting process and we want to make sure that at the end of the day we have enough money available for the Governor to use in the case of emergencies,” said Rep. Lundstrom.

These past few years, that rainy day fund has grown to about $2 billion thanks to the oil boom. That rainy day money is there in case revenues take a hit to avoid cutting vital programs.

The bill aims to shift some of that money to the operational reserve, which is the fund the Governor could access for public health and safety emergencies.

The idea has Republicans up in arms.

“Another way to increase that operating reserve is to reduce spending,” said Rep. Larry Scott (R- Hobbs).

Although each Republican on that committee voted against the proposal, it passed in an 8 to 4 vote.

Representative Lundstrom defended the budget, saying it’s balanced. The budget is still being worked on by the Senate.

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