New Mexico sees rebound in tax revenues | KOB 4
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New Mexico sees rebound in tax revenues

Joseph Lynch
December 04, 2017 06:18 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. -- Having dealt with nearly a decade bad revenue projections, New Mexico finally has a piece of good news with oil and gas price increases fueling an uptick for next year.

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With the 30 day-legislative session starting in January, it's now up to legislators to decide exactly what to do with that extra money.

Higher oil and natural gas prices mean more money to fund New Mexico's state government, which has seen more than its share of cuts to various state departments.

"What people have forgotten was that we've robbed every nook and cranny to make government stay open, and we're going to have to replenish that," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith, D-Deming.

Smith said his phone is already ringing with people more than willing to help spend some of that extra money.

"Looks like we're not going to be robbing Peter to pay Paul," he said. "The unfortunate thing about when you announce that you have 8.5 to 10 percent reserves -- we're talking close to $600 million -- the public is sort of going to clap their hands and say, 'Now we can spend it."

Senate Minority Floor Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, said that the governor and the legislative branch seem to be on the same page early on with the revenue uptick. They both see the importance of getting the state's reserves up, so that means saving and perhaps a limited amount of increases in spending.

"Overall the picture, it's so much better than it has been," he said. "But we're still going to have to be fairly conservative in how we spend money and keep our reserves at a rate where we can make up the difference when there's fluctuations in markets."

Ingle agrees with Smith that there won't be a shortage of people with suggestions on what they should do with that extra money.

"There's going to be some legislation probably to increase some salaries of employees that are employed by the state, education-wise, state employees too," he said. "It's not going to be a lot, but it's been awhile and they've had some cuts."

That 30-day legislative session will begin on Jan. 16. It will be the last for Gov. Susana Martinez, who still yields the power of the veto on any decisions on how that money might be spent or how it is to be saved.

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Joseph Lynch

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