Updated: March 11, 2020 06:28 PM
Created: March 11, 2020 04:38 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed our state's $7.6 billion budget, and vetoed $150 million in spending for projects around New Mexico.
The budget is for the next fiscal year, starting July 1. It was signed into law amid economic uncertainty involving the coronavirus and declining oil prices -- which could cost New Mexico millions in lost revenue.
"This is another reason why I was so assertive about diversifying the economy, and if we had passed recreational cannabis, that would be 11,000 new jobs and about $100 million coming into the state,” the governor said. “So people should expect that I will continue to do that because you just have to be economically prepared, clear about what enhances the quality of life for New Mexicans, and secure about the revenues that can come in.”
The budget still includes 4% pay raises for most state employees, a $405 million increase for the state medicaid budget, and sets a 25% general fund reserve target.
“We want to make sure that we have hundreds of millions of dollars available to us if we need it," she said.
The budget is a 7.5% increase over the current year, with 45% of all new spending going toward education.
“What we were able to sign today was a responsible budget that meets our state's priorities, that meets our state's commitment to public education, to public safety, to ensuring that we're addressing our behavioral health situation in our state, so all around a good comprehensive budget," said Victor Reyes, the governor's legislative director.
Before the governor signed the budget into law, she vetoed well over $100 million for state-wide projects.
"Here's what we kept: anything that's public safety, anything that's security for schools, anything that is public health, and we included public health, for example, Navajo Nation access to electricity and water," the governor said.
Republicans are saying, "I told you so."
During the legislative session, they worried that the state could not afford the spending that was approved last month.
"All through the legislative process this year we told the governor, 'slow down. You need more reserves. The oil business is too cyclical," said House Minority Leader Rep. Jim Townsend.
Republicans believe the state is spending too much money across the board, but have real scorn with the governor's film incentive plan in the budget. They believe the state actually loses money because of the program.
The governor can still cut spending if revenue declines. If necessary, she can also call a special session to re-balance the budget.
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