Budget battle expected in Roundhouse this session | KOB 4
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Budget battle expected in Roundhouse this session

Chris Ramirez
January 16, 2018 10:11 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. -- The debate among lawmakers this legislative session isn't about where to cut. It's about where to spend and how to spend.

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Both budget proposals from Gov. Susana Martinez and the Legislative Finance Committee increase funding for public safety, job growth ideas and child welfare.

A hurricane in the Gulf, political tensions in the Middle East or a land dispute in the U.S. can all impact how New Mexico's budget looks. That's because the gas and oil industry is extremely volatile. Booms and busts happen all the time.

The state government gets revenue through taxes, leases and royalties from gas and oil. The more New Mexico produces or the higher the cost to consumers at the pump, the more money the state government rakes in. According to Martinez, 45 percent of the state's income comes from gas and oil alone.

"We adopted a bill in the last session that will take the surplus of the oil and gas revenue and put it into a new reserve fund to smooth out the ups and downs of revenue to the state," House Speaker Brian Egolf said. "We should start seeing that fund take effect in the next several months. The way we wean ourselves off the dependency on oil and gas revenue is – when we have the revenue to put it into initiatives that help truly help us diversify our economy, to lessen our dependence in the long run."

In the last few months, gas and oil saw an uptick and state government is swimming in money. Martinez and state lawmakers are banking that the trend continues.

ON JOB CREATION

Because the state is doing well financially, don't expect to see some of the fights between lawmakers as seen in the past. Many New Mexicans are hopeful that their representatives will spend their time in Santa Fe talking about how to bring home more jobs.

When it comes to the unemployment rate, New Mexico sits at 6.1 percent -- well above the national average and significantly higher than the state's regional neighbors.

Many of the jobs New Mexico has been able to attract pay low wages. State leaders still have their work cut out for them. Martinez outlined her vision to attract jobs...

"No. 1, reform the tax code and reduce the cost of doing business in our state," she said. "Make it easier to create jobs."

Democrats also agree that this year should also focus on ways on improving our economic outlook. Democrats believe that starts with a good education that will train a healthy workforce.

"Something that is very near and to my heart and to my colleagues behind me is education," said Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City. "Investing in education, this is a top priority for us. We look at the entire spectrum from K-3 Plus to higher ed. The LFC budget proposes to add $23 million to higher ed programs, including childcare and pre-K as well as expanding the successful home visiting program."

Credits

Chris Ramirez

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

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