Lawmakers weighing their options before approving road funding plan

Politics - Government

It’s no secret that New Mexico roads are in desperate need of repair. Lawmakers on both sides agree something needs to be done, but with the session nearing its final days and no money for roads approved, KRQE News 13 started asking, what’s the hold up?

More funding for New Mexico roads is something both sides agree on, but where to get that money is where they differ. 

“I think really focusing on repairing our roads is of the utmost importance,” Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, D-Albuquerque, said. 

There is no shortage of proposed bills to tackle this issue. Lawmakers have suggested increasing the distribution of the car excise tax, sending more to the state road fund each year. Another bill suggests adding a separate surcharge to your car’s registration to go towards the state road fund.

There was also a proposed gas tax increase in House Bill 6, which would also go towards roads. A fight over that prompted lawmakers to take that out before the bill was passed.

‘There’s also talk about which roads need the most help. Senate Republicans want to focus a majority of the money on the southeast part of the state because of an increase in oil activity down there. 

“It’s put stress on the roads that were not accustomed to that kind of traffic, so all this heavy equipment, drilling rigs, trucks, have basically destroyed their roads,” Sen. Steven Neville, R-Aztec, said. 

House Republicans have made it known that they would rather spend the billion-dollar surplus from oil and gas on roads than to pay off the state’s Hollywood tab. They also want to keep Democrats from using the state’s surplus to increase the annual budget. 

At this point, the hold up is figuring out which bill works best, but lawmakers say it is something that will be dealt with before the session is over. 

The state budget calls for at least $400 million to be spent on roads each year. That budget has yet to be approved. The other bills would add money on top of that $400 million figure. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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