As the opening date of the New Mexico State Legislature nears, Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham has proposed increased funding for a variety of initiatives, including $200 million for road projects across the state.
The road initiative is but a small part of an overall spending proposal from the Governor, who is also asking lawmakers to approve $200 million more than the current $446 million for K-12 education; and $76 million to go into the Public Employees Retirement Association state pension plan.
The Governor’s proposals come as the Legislative Finance Committee has released a report recommending a $7.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2020-2021, a nearly 6.5 percent increase over the current fiscal year.
This year’s recommended spending budget represents “more modest growth compared with last year’s efforts to address court-ordered education reform and restore badly depleted programs,” said Committee Chairman Senator John Arthur Smith in a statement.
But despite an improving revenue picture, Smith added, “We still have work to do to help the state recover from a financially stressful decade.”
The Committee’s report, Recommendations and Highlights, notes that capital outlay requests for this year from all state agencies as well as higher education institutions, various schools, and local entities, total more than $3.8 billion.
“Despite high oil and gas revenues, requests still outpace estimated severance tax bonding capacity of $362.3 million and general obligation bond capacity of $198.9 million.”
The committee recommends spending nearly $196 million on nearly forty higher education institution capital projects, including $30 million for the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center for a new College of Nursing and Population Health building.
Also recommended: $18 million for phase two construction of the new agricultural center at New Mexico State University.
The committee additionally recommends spending up to $33 million in general obligation bonds for senior center construction and upgrade projects across the state, as well as $9.5 million for library facility work statewide.
By Garry Boulard
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