SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico’s lawmakers have even more money to play with than previously expected. The latest estimates by New Mexico’s economists show the state will likely have $3.482 billion in “new money” by fiscal year 2025.

That new money is the cash left over after the state pays for all its yearly expenses. Thanks to economic growth, decent employment rates, and the state’s oil and gas industry, the state recently increased its estimate for how much money it’ll have to spend.

In December of 2022, New Mexico’s economists estimated how much cash the state would earn from things like taxes and investments. Now, a new estimate shows another $866.2 million they didn’t realize they’d have for the fiscal year 2023 and $790.7 million they didn’t know they’d have for the fiscal year 2024.

With all the extra cash, lawmakers seem to be staying fiscally conservative, knowing that the good times may not continue forever.

“We need to see past the dollar signs and focus on planning for the future because these high-revenue years won’t last,” New Mexico Senator George Muñoz (D-Gallup) said in a press release. “We still have much work to do for New Mexicans, but we have an opportunity as well to move the state toward less reliance on oil and gas.”

On the other side of the political aisle, Republican Senator Bill Sharer (Farmington) said the state needs to invest the extra cash.

“We don’t want to squander $3.5 billion when we can use it for investments that will allow us to weather economic downtowns. The question is, where do you put the money where it grows? New Mexico certainly has issues it needs to address but the focus should be how to take today’s money and turn it into future money,” Sharer said.

One big question surrounding the cash is whether or not lawmakers will consider another round of payouts to New Mexicans. Over the last fiscal year, the state paid residents more than $780 million in rebates.

When asked about the possibility of another round of rebate checks, the governor’s office responded with this statement:

“The robust general fund proves that what we are doing in New Mexico’s economy is working,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “As we see another record year of projected revenue, we will continue building a solid financial future for our state through meaningful and long-lasting investments, always with an eye on stewardship of public dollars and fiscal responsibility.”