ALBUQUERQUE (AP) – As New Mexico lawmakers feud over a stalled public works package and wrestle with ways to stimulate a lagging economy, an ominous number looms over the conversation.
The state auditor says $4.5 billion in unspent money is sitting around in the accounts of various agencies, with varying degrees of restrictions on how it can be used and when it should be pushed out to spur economic development.
Some lawmakers and Gov. Susana Martinez disagree with the auditor’s assessment.
Others say it highlights the need to better sort out New Mexico’s complicated balance sheet.
Lawmakers are open to examining the figures and want changes such as ensuring the money goes to projects that are ready to move forward, rather than having hundreds of millions of dollars getting bottled up in bureaucracy.