New Mexico legislature reaches agreement on $6.3 billion budget

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Lawmakers have come to an agreement on the state’s $6.3 billion budget after the House of Representatives initially rejected the Senate’s budget amendments Tuesday night.

The House was not happy with one particular detail of the Senate’s amendments, according to House Appropriations and Finance Committee chair Patricia Lundstrom: road funding.

The Senate scaled back road funding from the House’s proposed $60 million to $34 million.

“We have been major advocates throughout the last year for kind of igniting the economy, stimulating the economy,” Rep. Lundstrom said. “And the best way to do that is through construction.”

The two chambers went into conference committee Wednesday afternoon to reach an agreement, with three lawmakers representing each chamber: Representatives George Dodge, Larry Larranaga and Lundstrom with Senators John Arthur Smith, Carlos Cisneros and Steven Neville.

After about 30 minutes, the two groups reached a deal. State roads will get $44 million. School cash balances will also see $5 million to replenish from the previous year’s budget shortfall that leads to cuts and sweeping.

The rest of the budget was something lawmakers relatively agreed wholly on, and is mostly in line with Gov. Susana Martinez’s requests. It included pay raises for state police officers, teachers and state workers.

The Senate also added another $2 million to the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office budget, on top of the House’s proposed budget for Raul Torrez’s office.

The revised bill from the conference committee now goes to both the House and Senate floor for a vote, then on to the governor’s desk.

Out of the 1,000 pieces of legislation proposed this year, fewer than 50 bills have made it to the governor’s desk.

Nearly all the bills on the governor’s desk are bipartisan and many relate to infrastructure. Going into the session both sides of the aisle, including the governor, outlined their agendas.

For Republicans, it was all about cracking down on crime and increasing penalties for criminals. That included an attempt to reinstate the death penalty and expand three strikes. However, in the Democratic-controlled legislature, those bills hardly stood a chance.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have received push back on their attempts to fund things like early childhood education and public safety by way of using permanent funds.

The 30-day legislative session ends Thursday at noon.

The Governor’s Office issued the following statement about the budget:  “The Governor worked with legislative leaders and is generally pleased by the budget and how it prioritizes public safety, crime, and economic development. However, the Governor and her staff will review the budget line by line and are skeptical of some of the wasteful pork projects included in this and other bills and will not hesitate to exercise her line-item veto authority.  As always, any tax increases are dead on arrival.”

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