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The Latest: New Mexico governor willing to discuss budget

The Associated Press
July 21, 2016 07:22 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The Latest on New Mexico's budget shortfall (all times local):

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4:45 p.m.

Gov. Susana Martinez says she's willing to discuss New Mexico's budget outlook with legislative leaders who are concerned about a multimillion-dollar shortfall and future spending.

Martinez spokesman Michael Lonergan said Thursday the governor is closely monitoring revenue figures and will insist that the state moves forward cautiously to ensure taxpayers are protected.

The governor's office expects to have final revenue numbers for the 2016 fiscal year in a few weeks.

The statement came after Sen. John Arthur Smith, head of the Senate Finance Committee, formally asked the governor to call lawmakers into session this summer to address a deficit of close to $200 million for the fiscal year that ended in June.

Another concern is whether revenues will keep pace with the current budget year.

Smith says revenues could be $300 million to $500 million less than expectations, meaning lawmakers would have to adjust spending going forward.

Gov. Susana Martinez's office released a statement regarding the revenue declines. Click here to read.

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3:05 p.m.

State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn says a decline in revenues due to troubles in the oil and gas industry will have a serious effect on New Mexico fulfilling its budget commitments.

Dunn released figures Thursday that show his office collected nearly $500 million in revenue for the fiscal year that ended in June. That marks a 32 percent reduction from the previous year.

Dunn says based on projections by the Land Office and the oil and gas downturn and its effects on gross receipts and other taxes he had predicted a larger budget shortfall than anticipated for the state.

He says his predictions are proving accurate.

At least one key state senator has asked Gov. Susana Martinez to call a special session to deal with the lack of revenues.

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2:50 p.m.

New Mexico State Treasure Tim Eichenberg says data through the end of May show that revenue collections aren't keeping up with projections.

As a result, Eichenberg said Thursday that it's unlikely the budget crafted by state lawmakers for the current fiscal year can be supported.

Eichenberg's concerns echo those of one of the Legislature's top budget hawks, Democratic Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming. Smith has asked Gov. Susana Martinez to call a special session to address future spending as well as a deficit for the fiscal year that just ended.

The state treasurer's office says the situation needs to be addressed to ensure that critical functions of government - from schools and health care to police and prisons - are not interrupted.

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12:30 p.m.

New Mexico is expected to close out its books for the fiscal year that just ended with close to a $200 million deficit and it's lined up to see revenues for this next year fall short by as much as a half-billion dollars.

The grim picture was painted Thursday during a news conference by Sen. John Arthur Smith, the head of the Senate committee that helps craft the budget each year.

Smith says New Mexico's budget problems are a result of the sagging energy industry and that the state needs to do more to diversify its economy if it wants to weather what he called the "oil and gas roller coaster."

Smith has asked Gov. Susana Martinez to call a special legislative session to address the budget problems. The governor's office has yet to respond.

The governor has opposed raising taxes during her tenure, but Smith said it will likely take a combination of more cuts and tax increases to stabilize the state's finances.

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9:12 a.m.

One of New Mexico's most influential senators is calling for a special session as state leaders face the prospect of dipping into reserves to address a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall.

Democrat Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming made the formal request for lawmakers to reconvene this summer in a letter to Gov. Susana Martinez. The governor's office did not immediately response to a request for comment.

Smith is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which helps to craft the state budget. He and others warned during the legislative session earlier this year that continued slumping revenues could force lawmakers to revisit the budget.

Estimates released this week by legislative analysis show revenues for the fiscal year that just ended at $5.7 billion, or $159 million shy of expectations.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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The Associated Press

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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