NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – After a year of shutdowns and restrictions and soaring unemployment, the state is actually looking at a record-setting year for revenue. New Mexico is projected to have nearly $1 billion extra dollars in its budget thanks to better than expected tax revenue. State lawmakers hope this could help spur real change.

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“If we do it correctly, and we invest in technology, if we invest in water infrastructure which New Mexico is lacking and why it’s always been the donut hole from surrounding states is infrastructure and water… and so we have a chance as a legislature to make the most change New Mexico has ever seen,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. George Munoz (D – Gallup).

The state is expected to have $8.8 billion in revenue this current budget year. That’s $1.4 billion more than last year’s $7.4 billion budget. An unexpected but major source of revenue for the state was income tax payments.

During the pandemic, personal incomes reached record heights due in part to padded unemployment benefits and stimulus checks. In this legislative session, Sen. Munoz wants to see this money go to long-term, major investment projects instead of dozens of small projects across the state.

“Well, everybody wants their own little program. You know, I want $500,000 for this program and I want $500,000 for that program. I’m talking about, if Albuquerque wants that soccer arena, why not help them put that in? Those are investments that we need to retain people,” Sen. Munoz said.

Sen. Munoz also talked about the importance of investing in higher education in order to retain New Mexico’s best and brightest. Of course, rising oil prices are also contributing to the state’s stronger financial outlook. That state revenue bump does not include the $1.75 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds that the governor’s office has only partially earmarked.