SANTA FE, N.M. (AP/KRQE) - The state's big budget bill, also known as House Bill 2, went through a tough Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday. The reworked key parts of the bill, making more than a hundred changes.
The powerful Senate Finance Committee adopted 123 amendments to New Mexico's $7 billion budget. This is one of New Mexico's largest budgets in history, and these changes are making the most of it.
"I know we did a lot of work on this, and I know that we have a new governor and she is interested in certain areas and creating a budget is not an easy thing to do, and I know it's hard work,"
When the Senate Finance Committee got the House's approved budget, they changed it to increase spending by nearly $20 million. It includes more money for the Tourism Department, Corrections Department, and nearly $10 million for Higher Education. One of the biggest changes was adding $122 million to the Department of Transportation for major road projects.
The budget bill is about to write its biggest check to improve education, and of course, most of that is in response to court orders to improve education in New Mexico.
"Mr. Chairman, going into public education just to note, that's a 16 percent increase with a total of 46 percent of our general fund. That's the highest percentage we've ever had going into public education that I can remember,"
The governor and Democrats have made it known that in this session they want to shove a lot of money at education, calling it a moon shot opportunity with a billion dollars extra in the budget from the state's oil boom.
The Senate Finance Committee passed this budget unanimously Monday. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for debate. Once passed by the Senate, the House will get to look over the budget again before it is sent tot he governor.