As the end draws near, the action heats up. With Driver’s License/REAL ID legislation on its way to the governor, lawmakers must focus on the budget and on capital outlay during the waning hours of the legislative session. These are the must-pass bills.
The senate unanimously approved HB 311 this afternoon. This is the supplemental funding bill that sweeps, transfers and diverts as much as $295 million from nooks and crannies throughout state government in order to avoid shortcomings in both the FY 16 and FY 17 budgets. House Bill 2, the general appropriations act, would not balance without passage of HB 311.
Knowing that, when HB 311 made it back to the House, the members concurred with Senate amendments on a 52 - 13 vote, though not without a lot of debate about the need for revenue enhancement measures as well as the cuts, sweeps, transfers and diversions.
With the balancing tool in place, the house concurred with the senate’s further cuts to HB 2, the general appropriations act, on a 57 - 10 vote, again with long and somewhat rancorous debate about how we got into this fix. So the budget and its balancing act are in place and now go to the governor. In case you haven’t heard, the FY 17 budget features a $19.5 million cut for higher education over current year spending levels. UNM and the medical school account for a third of that cut. Additional shaving is also outlined for the current FY 16 budget.
Capital outlay is still in play. Tonight, the senate unanimously approved the capital outlay bill that relies heavily on severance tax bonds after defeating an amendment that would have put more funding into water projects. UNM has $3.25 million in projects in this bill. Meanwhile, the general obligation bond bill in which UNM has a huge stake is still waiting for action on the house floor.
The session goes sine die at noon today.