State lawmakers have tough task of distributing surplus | KOB 4
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State lawmakers have tough task of distributing surplus

Kai Porter
December 12, 2018 06:20 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – State lawmakers will have major decisions to make regarding the $1.1 billion budget surplus when they meet for the 2019 legislative session.

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Public departments and agencies across the state are already pandering for a piece of the pie. But experts are cautioning lawmakers to be careful of how they spend the money.

Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation which is a free-market think tank, said lawmakers are still facing a challenge despite the budget surplus.

"With Democrats taking over all sectors of government, with this oil money available, you've got 8 years of wish lists coming out and there's going to be more spending proposals more new government proposals then you can shake a stick at in Santa Fe, " Gessing said.

Albuquerque Public Schools said it wants state legislators to increase its annual budget by 20 to 25 percent.

The City of Albuquerque plans to ask the legislature to help pay for a new $30 million radio communications system for first responders.

Additionally, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported that the Public Employees Retirement Association wants the legislature to fork over $200 million to help with funding.

But, a recent finance committee report states:

"Revenues could rapidly decline not only if the oil industry experiences significant negative shocks, but also if growth simply slows more than projected, the state should proceed with caution in crafting a budget."

Gessing agrees with this statement.

"The picture of how much money we'll have going forward is quite uncertain so we're definitely cautioning lawmakers not to create a bunch of new government programs that you're going to have to fund in the out years when you have essentially a one-year windfall of money available to spend," Gessing said.

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Kai Porter

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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