New Mexico House Approves Budget Plan
A plan to slash New Mexico state agency spending by nearly 3 percent with the exception of public safety and child welfare programs has been approved by the state House of Representatives.
The proposal approved Wednesday night closely resembles a Senate-backed bill. House Republican majority leader Nate Gentry says he negotiated a compromise with Senate leaders to cut higher education funding by 5 percent. House Republicans initially advocated for more cuts to higher education to ease budget pressures on public schools.
The 36-32 vote in the House advances a key budget solvency provision as lawmakers confront a nearly $600 million general fund spending deficit.
The House bill would deepen Senate-approved cuts to 5.5 percent of current operating budgets at most agencies, including departments overseeing public health programs, taxation and revenue, economic development, state museums and historic sites, along with the state attorney general's office.
A proposal to exempt New Mexico public safety and child welfare agencies from state spending cuts is under consideration by the New Mexico House of Representative.
House Republicans proposed amendments to a Senate-approved spending bill on Wednesday. The changes would deepen cuts to most agencies to 5.5 percent, including departments overseeing state universities, public health programs, state museums and historic sites.
At public schools, per-student funding would be decreased by 1.5 percent with a recommendation that spending cuts be made in administrative areas outside the classroom.
The amendment leaves out more drastic cuts to the University of New Mexico presented by Republican lawmakers in recent days.
Proposed agency spending cuts of $175 million this year would help the state close a nearly $600 million budget deficit.
A budget solvency plan that would slash spending at most New Mexico agencies is under discussion on the floor of the House of Representatives.
The Republican-led House introduced new amendments Wednesday to a Senate-approved budget solvency bill that would cut agency spending this year by $175 million.
House Republicans initially proposed steeper overall cuts to state agencies that would spare the Departments of Public Safety and Children, Youth and Family.
A sustained downturn the oil and natural gas sector has rippled through the New Mexico economy, eroding state government revenues from royalties and a variety of taxes. Lawmakers are attempting to close a nearly $600 million shortfall and restore depleted operating reserves. A major credit rating agency is reviewing the state's finances for a possible downgrade that would increase borrowing costs.
GOP Gov. Susana Martinez steadfastly opposes any new taxes.
A proposal to reinstate the death penalty in New Mexico is expected to go before the full House of Representatives.
The GOP-controlled House could take up the proposal Wednesday amid objections from Democrats who say lawmakers should be spending time during a special session to tackle the state's budget crisis.
The House Appropriations and Finance Committee recommended approval Monday of a bill to reinstate capital punishment for convicted killers of police, children and corrections officers.
Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Legislative allies are pushing to revive the death penalty in response to the recent killings of two police officers and the sexual assault, killing and dismemberment of a 10-year-old Albuquerque girl.
Committee members voted 8-6 along party lines to advance the bill, with Democrats in opposition.
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