House lawmakers to continue special session Monday | KOB 4

House lawmakers to continue special session Monday

Hawker Vanguard
Updated: June 20, 2020 10:13 PM
Created: June 20, 2020 09:51 PM

 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — State senate lawmakers adjourned their special session after passing the revised state budget, but House lawmakers are scheduled to return to the Roundhouse on Monday.

The budget will now head to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for approval. The new budget was based on the expectation that COVID-19 may still have a strong grip on oil and gas and state tourism for some time.

Republican lawmakers in the Senate were hesitant to agree that this temporary fix is setting the state up for success in the future, but many are calling it an accomplishment since the budget was balanced without a tax increase.

“It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a broken artery,” said Sen. Bill Burt (R-District 33), chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “We’re going to get to January, but when we get there we have to make sure the state is viable, not only for the rest of this fiscal year that'll go to June 30 of next year, but especially building a budget that we hope will get us into the ‘22 budget, which will begin July 1st of 2021.”

On the other side of the aisle, Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth (D-District 25) said he’s not leaving a single stone unturned and will look at all possible revenue streams to make the state solvent.

“We may be looking at all the above and of course it wasn't long ago we were in this situation in 2017. We faced a similar situation and again tax reform is something we have to look at and there's things that can be fixed on all sides of that,” he said.

The biggest question is who will feel the brunt of the budget cuts. Democratic lawmakers said the new budget is not cutting public education funding, but other education advocates said students and schools will feel the blows from a cut in social services.

“Students across New Mexico are going to be suffering. There's more costs for the schools because of the pandemic. The pandemic laid bare the inequalities in our school system, and they're going to get even worse because of the greater need for social services when kids come back,” said Charles Goodmacher, Director Of Government Affairs at Transform Education New Mexico Coalition.

Lawmakers on both sides said they’re looking at a shortfall right now because people are not spending as much money, reducing the state’s tax revenue.

A handful of bills are headed to the governor’s office for her approval.

PASSED BILLS:

  • SB 4 will allow county clerks to mail absentee ballots to all registered voters. It also includes updated public health requirements in response to the pandemic.
  • HB 5 will create a Civil Rights Commission, which will allow experts to make recommendations on potential violations to state constitutional rights. It could also propose to limit or remove qualified immunity.

BILLS DELAYED UNTIL MONDAY:

  • SB 8 would require law enforcement officer to wear body cameras. Officers will be liable if they don’t follow the rules.
  • SB 3 would give businesses a break on paying a higher tax rate due to high unemployment rates.

 


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