House passes $9.4B budget; gov signals she wants changes

By Daniel J. Chacón, The Santa Fe New Mexican At the halfway point of the 60-day legislative session, New Mexico’s proposed budget is halfway to the governor’s desk. The $9.43 billion spending plan, which includes average 5% pay raises for state government employees and leaves room for rebates for taxpayers, is headed to the Senate […]

House passes $9.4B budget; gov signals she wants changes

By Daniel J. Chacón, The Santa Fe New Mexican

At the halfway point of the 60-day legislative session, New Mexico’s proposed budget is halfway to the governor’s desk.

The $9.43 billion spending plan, which includes average 5% pay raises for state government employees and leaves room for rebates for taxpayers, is headed to the Senate Finance Committee after passing the House 52-17 Thursday.

Seven Republicans joined all 45 Democrats in the House in voting to advance House Bill 2.

During a three-hour discussion and debate on the spending plan — the highest in state history — Republicans who voted against it raised concerns about the budget’s proposed 12.4% increase in spending, given the state’s financial peaks and valleys.

Minority Leader Ryan Lane of Aztec said what gave him the most “heartburn” was the proposed spending increase comes on the heels of a 14% jump the year before.

“We live in a place that is wholly dependent upon the extractive industries to fund this budget,” he said, referring to oil and gas, which generate about 40% of general fund revenues. “But too often I feel we do what we can to try to, at the same time, make life very difficult on that industry, and I just don’t think that model of relying on oil and gas with one hand and the other hand having a sword towards the same industry is sustainable long term.”

Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, urged more fiscal restraint.

“If we were a little more disciplined during the good times, we wouldn’t have to feel so much pain during the bad times,” he said.

“Just looking back [when] I started here 11 years ago, our budget in 2012 was about $5.5 billion, and now we’re looking at [nearly] $9.5 billion. It’s almost doubled in 11 years,” Harper said. “So I just want to say I’m a little concerned that we’ll be coming back here — maybe not next year, I don’t know when — but the piper will eventually have to be paid.”

The proposed budget makes significant investments across the board, from public education, where spending would increase 8.6%, to Medicaid, where spending would go up by $218 million, or 18%.

“There are urgent needs now, and we simply cannot ignore those urgent needs now,” Rep. Nathan Small, D-Las Cruces and the new chair of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, said during a budget briefing earlier in the day.

The spending plan leaves general fund reserves at 30%, or just over $2.8 billion.

Asked about the bill Thursday afternoon, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she applauded the House for getting it passed with a majority vote.

But she signaled it doesn’t have her full support.

While HB 2 spends about the same amount of money as the governor’s budget proposal, there are some significant differences between the two documents. HB 2, for example, would spend less on child care and on the Opportunity Scholarship Fund that helps many New Mexicans pay for college, a signature initiative of the governor’s.

Lujan Grisham praised funding for housing and taxpayer-funded college tuition but said it’s “insufficient.”

“I’m going to keep fighting until I get a budget that comes upstairs that reflects our priorities and the priorities of the state,” she said.

Still, the governor expressed confidence the two branches of government could reach agreement.

“Even if it’s at 1 a.m. at the end of the session,” she said.

“It’s in better shape in terms of executive priorities … than it has been, but it still misses the marks that are critical to us,” the governor added.

The spending plan would transfer $850 million to the Severance Tax Permanent Fund and $100 million to both the Water Trust Fund and a new conservation trust fund as part of a long-term strategy to convert what officials call “now money” into “future money.” In other words, the budget would invest more than $1 billion into funds that would grow and spin off revenues in the future.

“Our budget leverages historic revenues to make responsible investments that reflect our values, help working families across our state today, and plant seeds for generational change,”  Rep. Meredith Dixon, an Albuquerque Democrat and vice chair of the House Appropriations committee, said in a statement.

Rep. Andrea Reeb, R-Clovis, a former district attorney who has been tapped to serve as a special prosecutor in the criminal case tied to the 2021 fatal shooting on the set of the movie Rust, recused herself from the vote.

“There’s been concerns about potential conflicts of interest raised and so I felt it best to excuse myself, but I do appreciate all the hard work that everybody worked on the budget,” she said.

The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to discuss the proposed budget Monday.

Staff writer Robert Nott contributed to this report.

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…
Governor to call special session for public safety legislation this summer

Governor to call special session for public safety legislation this summer

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she will call the Legislature into a special session this summer to address public safety legislation that did…
Emily’s List endorses seven candidates for Legislature

Emily’s List endorses seven candidates for Legislature

Emily’s List, a nonprofit that supports women candidates and reproductive rights, endorsed seven incumbents facing general election opponents in New Mexico legislative elections. All…
Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a final rule Friday to designate two types of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances. Those two chemicals are perfluorooctanoic…
BLM finalizes controversial public lands rule

BLM finalizes controversial public lands rule

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management finalized its controversial public lands rule on Thursday. This rule is controversial because it allows for conservation leasing…
Haaland signs order protecting sacred lands near Placitas

Haaland signs order protecting sacred lands near Placitas

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland signed an order on Thursday to withdraw more than 4,200 acres of land in Sandoval County near Placitas from mineral…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican A challenging task awaits New Mexico lawmakers in the next 30 days: Reconciling three very different…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Friday $10 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act was awarded to six tribal nations and…
Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

The House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee discussed a potential constitutional amendment that seeks to limit the governor’s executive powers. The committee approved…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …
Stansbury introduces judicial ethics bill on U.S. Supreme Court steps

Stansbury introduces judicial ethics bill on U.S. Supreme Court steps

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury announced a bill on Thursday that would, if enacted, establish judicial ethics to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Judicial Ethics…
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
How the AZ Supreme Court decision on abortion impacts New Mexico

How the AZ Supreme Court decision on abortion impacts New Mexico

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that an 1864 abortion ban is enforceable, throwing another state bordering New Mexico into the situation of…
Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…
Vasquez calls out Republicans for ‘inaction’ on border policy

Vasquez calls out Republicans for ‘inaction’ on border policy

U.S. Rep. Gabriel “Gabe” Vasquez, a Democrat who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District along the U.S.-Mexico border, cosponsored a resolution on Monday calling…
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a final rule Friday to designate two types of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances. Those two chemicals are perfluorooctanoic…
New Mexico Voices for Children has new leadership

New Mexico Voices for Children has new leadership

New Mexico Voices for Children, an organization that focuses on tax policy and how it impacts children in poverty, has new leadership. Gabrielle Uballez…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report