The House of Representatives this afternoon approved the state budget contained in SB 313 with a vote of  58 - 8  and applause for legislators and staff who crafted the compromise.This comes nearly two weeks after the House failed to pass the budget on a tie vote. So there was a lot of relief reflected in that applause. The Senate approved the bill last night.
 
Rep. Lucky Varela (D-Santa Fe) spoke of the compromise that includes “something for everyone.” Critics said the problem was there being “something for everyone” as everything has been spent and reserves are down to 8.7 percent for the proverbial rainy day.
 
Earlier this afternoon, members of House Appropriations approved the bill unanimously. They were quite familiar with the numbers as this Senate budget was based on and added to their work on HB 2. The $6.19 billion reflects new spending that amounts to $293 million. Of that new money, $46 million is going to higher education. The Executive and institutions reached a compromise of sorts on funding formula issues that had been giving them heartburn earlier in the session.
 
Higher ed statewide saw $5.9 million more for educating health care providers and another $5.9 million increase for research and public service projects (RPSPs). For instance, Project ECHO at the HSC is getting a $500,000 increase. Higher ed would also see a compensation increase of 1.5 percent.
 
The Lottery
House Appropriations gave a Do Pass to SB 347, the Senate frontrunner in the lottery solvency race, on a 10 – 8 party-line vote. This is the plan crafted by Sen. Michael Sanchez  (D-Belen) which bolsters lottery funds with liquor excise funds beginning in FY 16. So some legislators are beginning to question if the scholarship name should be changed.
 
We’re watching the House for action on the lottery scholarship and on capital outlay bills. The session ends at noon on Thursday.