Professional mediator takes on New Mexico budget impasse

The New Mexico State Capitol, known as 'The Roundhouse.'

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – He is a mild-mannered professional mediator who negotiates out-of-court resolutions to legal disputes.

In his unsalaried job as the next New Mexico state Senate majority leader, Democrat Peter Wirth is positioned as a chief powerbroker for high-stakes decisions about plunging state revenues and essential government services.

Wirth says his challenge is keeping the doors of government open and protecting programs that are economic drivers. And that could mean raising more tax dollars from gasoline sales, corporate income taxes or even the legalization of recreational marijuana – ideas that have been anathema to the state’s second-term GOP governor.

Wirth says the best opportunities for political compromise involve limits on misguided tax exemptions, deductions and credits, areas where influential industry lobbies will certainly stand in the way. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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