They’re looking to spend a billion more than last year. At a meeting, the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) detailed how they want to spend that money.
Lawmakers said, with a lot of extra cash this year, they’re focusing on funding programs that will pay off in the long run. However, they warned they have to save for the years until the money dries up.
“I am incredibly encouraged by this budget because it has spending, but it also has fiscal responsibility,” said Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe).
“I’m very encouraged that it was a unanimous bipartisan vote on this budget,” says Representative Brian Egolf, (D-Santa Fe).
Lawmakers celebrated the $9.4 billion budget as an opportunity to fund important programs, and save for a rainy day.
“The most transformational action that we can take during the record-breaking revenue time is to prepare for a future when we don’t have revenue,” said Representative Patricia Lundstrom (D-Gallup), “Fund programs that we know through evidence will pay off in the long run, create endowments that can fund programs in the future, and invest in infrastructure.”
Lundstrom said this is the second year they’ve seen big revenue growth like because of the oil and gas industry.
“So, as we plan for the future of New Mexico, make sure that we have a stability in our budget; make sure that our budget is able to withstand downturns in the rollercoaster ride of the economy,” says Senator George Munoz (D-Gallup).
The top issues lawmakers are turning their attention to include education—similar to the governor’s budget proposal, the LFC wants to spend more than $4 billion dollars which is up nearly 7% from current spending.
“$109 million to expand pre-kindergarten, $263 million in reoccurring, and $261 million in non-reoccurring expenses for public schools,” Lundstrom said.
They are proposing $80 million to backfill Medicaid spending: “Nothing is more important than the health of New Mexicans,” stated Representative Nathan Small (D-Las Cruces).
They’re also looking to give 5%t pay raises to state workers and teachers. The governor’s budget suggested 4%.
“We feel in this year in which we are blessed to have large excess revenues in which we can put forth to increase salary measures and to support our judiciary we are very happy to make this recommendation today,” said Representative Dayan Hochman-Vigil (D-Albuquerque).
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The LFC is also recommending spending $1 billion on rebate checks for New Mexicans.
The 60-day session starts Tuesday.