SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Lawmakers finalized the state’s budget, which has taken a nearly $2.4 billion hit because of the pandemic and dropping oil revenues. The budget is the main reason lawmakers had to gather for a special session and they’re having to make some difficult decisions on spending cuts.
“We’re in a position right now where we have a whole bunch of money the past couple of years and we extended that and maybe probably too much so.. And now the other side of the coin is that we have to retract and try to figure out how we can do that, how we can fix this thing and this is going to be a constant roller coaster because we’re so dependent on oil and gas,” said Sen. William Burt (R-Alamogordo).
A few months ago, lawmakers passed a massive $7.5 billion budget, but the pandemic is hitting hard on New Mexico’s economy. So in the revised budget, lawmakers are proposing to cut millions in capital outlay, roads, and infrastructure projects.
The solvency bill also waters down millions that were planned for early childhood education programs. One part lawmakers have been disagreeing on is about keeping a 1% pay raise for teachers. Some say during the current economic crisis is not the time for pay bumps. “The best thing we could give a kid is an education and knowledge and we’re fighting about pay increases instead of worrying about the future and what’s going to happen in New Mexico,” Sen. George Munoz (D-Gallup) said.
Lawmakers will be using a blend of rainy day funds and federal money to help keep programs running. There’s expected to be some debate on the Senate floor Saturday night.
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