Tensions rise as budget talks come down to the wire | KOB 4

Tensions rise as budget talks come down to the wire

Megan Abundis
Updated: February 19, 2020 12:01 PM
Created: February 18, 2020 10:19 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— Frustrations among lawmakers are becoming more apparent while they face increasing pressure to finalize a state budget before the session ends Thursday.

House Speaker Brian Egolf said some of his fellow lawmakers are intentionally slowing down the process.


“We are having bills that have almost no opposition, debated by the Republicans 2-3 hours per bill. They are debating simply for the purpose of causing delay,” he said.

He went on to say that his Republican colleagues are upset over the Red Flag law passing.

"But they are just stomping their feet and being unhappy that they were not able to stop that bill and they are making every other legislator and every senator and every Democrat in the House pay the price for their upset,” Egolf said.

Democrats were not exempt from Speaker Egolf’s jabs when he called out the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Sen. John Arthur Smith.

"Senator Smith for the last week has basically been holed up. He's refused repeated attempts by Chairwoman Lundstrom and myself to speak to him,” he said.

Egolf’s remarks prompted a sharp response from Sen. Smith.

"Well Donald Trump blames everyone too,” Smith said. "I think he's been running a lot of hours and he's extremely tired and once he gets some rest after the session that he will step back and say, ‘Boy, I wished I would have a little bit more rest before I spoke.’”

Sen. Smith said the budget bill still needed a lot of work.

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Jim Townsend the budget stall tactic claims are false.

“In order for us to make good decisions it takes time, but more than that we have to think about the state of New Mexico and the fiscal responsibilities of the state,” Townsend said. “We are in the middle of the boon. We have more money quite frankly than we have since and what we are doing is spending everything and we are spending our kids future, now you tell me, should I try to slow that down?"

Rep. Townsend said he doesn’t want the state to pile on taxes for residents.

“New Mexico deserves more respect than to have bills and higher taxes crammed down their throats when we have billions of dollars in surplus. This is absolutely spending out of control,” he said.

“I will use every rule that I have in order to do what I have to stop this. It’s blatant disregard and disrespect for the state of New Mexico,” he added.

Lawmakers are putting a lot of bills on the fast-track, however the budget was not included on Tuesday evening’s agenda.

The full Senate will be debating the budget Wednesday morning.

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