SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The 2022 New Mexico legislative session is just a couple of weeks away and lawmakers are already busy preparing for the biggest topics that may come up. Many already have an idea of what things they’d like to see tackled, like public safety and economic pandemic recovery.
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“First and foremost, this is a budget session, so we are looking at record revenues for the state, both from state gross receipt taxes as well as federal funding,” said Rep. Javier Martinez, a Democrat who also serves as the Majority Floor Leader. “A lot of that funding will be slated for critical infrastructure projects across the state – bridges, roads, senior centers, public libraries, schools.”
However, some other lawmakers have different ideas for that money. Republican Sen. Crystal Diamond, who serves much of southern New Mexico, wants to make sure a good chunk of those extra funds are also saved, rather than spent. “Much of the money New Mexico is seeing this session is one-time money, so it’s important that a lot of these funds are put towards building healthy reserves to build up New Mexico’s savings account,” said Diamond. “This is our year to go in there and make real lasting change with our budget policies.”
Diamond says one of her agendas this session is also to introduce tax reform. She cited the governor’s GRT tax as not being enough for the state. “We need to remove taxes on social security,” said Diamond. “We need to remove taxes on military pensions here in New Mexico.”
Another area planned for this session is improving broadband to rural areas. Lawmakers say they would also like to increase access to affordable child care. “We know that too many New Mexicans struggle with child care, it’s still expensive,” said Martinez. “These are critical services that can ensure that parents can go back to work, parents can go back to opening their businesses, parents can go back to participating in the economy. but all of these things require immediate attention.”
Meanwhile, an issue that seems to be on the docket for both parties is public safety and drivers of crime like drug use and poverty. “We’re looking at reforms to our pretrial detention programs, so offenders, particularly, those violent ones, can be held accountable and our communities kept safe,” said Martinez.
While this session will be back in-person for lawmakers, the public will still be able to join in from home, via Zoom. The 30-day session kicks off on Jan. 18 at noon and wraps in mid-February.