February 13, 2016

Senate panel makes massive budget cuts

A key Senate committee voted unanimously on Saturday to heavily amend the state budget originally drafted by the House.iStock_000001334173_Small

The Senate Finance Committee met briefly to approve an amendment, of about 200 pages to HB 2, the budget bill.

The change would include a one half percent cut to all state programs for the current fiscal year and cuts ranging from two to four percent for most agencies in the 2017 fiscal year.

After committee chair John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, spoke this week about the “dire” budget situation the state is in, committee members worked with the Legislative Finance Council to draft an amendment to HB 2.

“We’re going to keep our fingers crossed the decline is going to flatten out,” Smith said.

Under the amended budget, most state agencies would receive cuts in the 2017 fiscal year. Public safety programs such as some programs within the Children, Youth and Families Department, behavioral health Medicaid programs from the Human Services Department and inmate management within the Department of Corrections would be spared cuts but would not see increases.

Other agencies in 2017 would see a two percent reduction. Those agencies include courts, district attorneys and the Law Offices of the Public Defender. Agencies such as the Workforce Solutions Department and the Taxation and Revenue Department would see four percent cuts under this version of the budget.

The amended version of the budget next goes to the Senate floor. If the full Senate passes the bill, the House would still need to approve the changes and vote to concur before it could head to Martinez’s desk for a signature or veto.