New Mexico expected to face budget shortfall amid COVID-19 outbreak, falling oil prices | KOB 4

New Mexico expected to face budget shortfall amid COVID-19 outbreak, falling oil prices

Patrick Hayes
Updated: March 31, 2020 05:56 PM
Created: March 31, 2020 05:50 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- New Mexico's state budget could take a billion dollar hit because of a drop in oil prices and the coronavirus.

State Sen. John Arthur Smith called the number a moving target, which means estimates could go up.

"Between the oil and the gross receipts, I estimate the hit to the state is going to be somewhere close to a billion dollars," he said. "After watching this thing for a few days, I've increased that projection up to as high as $1.5 billion with what I'm seeing and what I'm hearing."

Earlier this month, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered non-essential businesses to shut down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"The actions she's taken are, quite frankly, very painful with my constituents and small businesses, restaurants, hotels and that sort of thing but from a health and safety standard, I think you have to recognize the fact, and I think New Mexicans will look back at this and be appreciative that she was proactive."

Smith said lawmakers will need a special session to address the issues but that won't happen until we have better data, possibly in June or July.

Paul Gessing, with the Rio Grande Foundation, a conservative think tank, said the state needs to cut funding.

"The last thing we need is tax increases," he said. "So really, this has to be cuts driven out of Santa Fe. We cannot afford tax increases at a time of this economic devastation."

Smith agrees, and does not want to raise taxes. But he said everything else is on the table.

"Obviously reoccurring expenditures-- all going to have to be on the table and looked at," he said.

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