With record state budget, New Mexico lawmakers eye more wildfire recovery aid

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LAS VEGAS, N.M. – The newest budget projections show another massive surplus is on the way.

Lawmakers made their way north Wednesday to hear state budget projections from the Legislative Finance Committee and survey damage from the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire.

“There is lots of talk about you know the burn scars and the needs up here in this area, the water systems that were destroyed, there are a lot of common things up here that we need to think about some capital expenditures,” said Republican state Sen. Pat Woods, who represents Curry, Quay, and Union counties.

With nearly $3.5 billion expected in New Mexico in the next budget year, lawmakers are already thinking about how they can help northern New Mexicans recover following the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire.

“Record investments in water infrastructure, creation of the land of enchantment conservation fund that goes to fund existing programs and leverage programs whether it is healthy soils or river stewards or watershed restoration which we toured up here in Las Vegas New Mexico following catastrophic fires,” said Democrat House Rep. Nathan Small, who represents Doña Ana County.

Legislators agree that the state is in good shape when it comes to reoccurring expenditures as they turn their focus to one-time projects that help local communities in our state. 

“We’ve got things in place to try to move this money forward for future spending and I know there will be special use programs, one-time non-reoccurring things that we need to think about doing,” Sen. Woods said.

“We are making this a more open and transparent participatory process so that we are welcoming in perspective from folks that say, ‘here is a challenge,’ or ‘here is an opportunity in my community,’ wherever you live in New Mexico,” Rep. Small said. “Our job is to know the budget numbers coming in and then work collaboratively so we know we are creating a solution.”