DALLAS — As New Mexico celebrates its centennial year, lawmakers will gather in Santa Fe next week to consider Gov. Susana Martinez’s proposed $5.61 billion budget.
The 30-day session that opens Jan. 17 is known as the short session, which meets every other year to consider budget measures.
After three years of growing austerity, the Republican governor’s proposal would increase spending by $194 million, or 3.6%.
Half of the proposed increase, or about $97 million, would go toward education, including $40 million for basic needs and another $26 million for teachers retirement funds.
Martinez, who completed her first year in office last month, said New Mexico must use caution, even amid rising revenues.
“Just one year ago, our state was facing a staggering structural budget deficit of roughly $450 million,” she noted in a letter to the state’s citizens. “This deficit was created by years of overspending by state government, a deep economic recession, and the fact that federal stimulus money that had been used to plug budget holes in areas like Medicaid and public education had dried up.”
In an indirect dig at her predecessor, Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, Martinez identified some of the cost-cutting measures “that included selling the state’s luxury jet.”
Other measures included reducing the number and salaries of political appointments, placing a moratorium on state vehicle purchases, renegotiating state office leases, eliminating hundreds of unused or unnecessary cell phones, and passing a budget that critically assessed funding needs throughout state government.
“New Mexico closed FY 2011 with general fund reserves at well over 9% of the state budget, and fiscal year ’12 reserves are also projected to finish at nearly the same level,” she said.
Around $55 million of “new” money would be used to shrink the gross receipts tax for up to 40,000 New Mexico small businesses under the governor’s plan.