With a $454 million budget deficit facing the state in 2009, New Mexico legislative leaders are considering dipping into $1.7 billion of unspent capital outlay funds to erase it.

Politically, the move may be difficult, because the capital outlay funds are reserved for 3,000 local projects farmed out to legislative districts. Rep. Edward Sandoval, D-Albuquerque, said he fears the state will just randomly choose to preempt projects that he considers economic development efforts.

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