Lawmakers: New Mexico facing budget shortfall, calls for special session

State budget crunch
State budget crunch

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico is looking at a serious money problem. Powerful state lawmakers just announced that they need to come up with millions to pay the bills.

“We’re alarmed with the 16 numbers and trying to close it out,” said New Mexico State Senator John Arthur Smith.

Smith heads the Legislative Finance Committee and said when the 2016 fiscal year ended in June, there was a shortfall of at least $150 million dollars. He said that number could go up.

“I’ve encouraged the staff at the Governor’s Office, the sooner the better,” said Senator Smith.

That’s why he’s calling for a special session, ASAP. He wants permission to use funds from the tobacco settlement money. But said even with help from those funds, it’s the current fiscal year, that $6.2 billion budget just approved in February, that’s the big issue.

“We believe the 17 revenues are anywhere from $300 to $500 million short,” said Senator Smith.

Smith blames the crisis on a few things, a struggling state economy and low prices that have triggered a crash in New Mexico’s oil and gas sector.

“Oil and gas is hitting the growth and receipts, it’s hitting the corporate taxes, it’s hitting the confiscating taxes, and they’re all trending in the wrong direction,” said Senator Smith.

He said legislators and the Governor need to all come together now and find a solution fast, adding that tax hikes shouldn’t be out of the question.

“Everything has to be on the table, but cuts alone are not going to carry at the end of the day,” said Senator Smith.

Smith also said he understands no lawmaker wants to go into a special session because of an economic crisis in an election year. All seats in the roundhouse are up for election this year.

 

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