Each day for the past several days, Senate Finance Chair John Arthur Smith (D-Deming) has reminded his colleagues about just how dire the state’s financial situation has become.
Here is his daily dose of woe for Wednesday:
The House built a FY 17 state budget on the assumption that at least $30 million in new revenue would be available. Over the last three or four days, it has become obvious that new money will simply not materialize. So HB 2 as it came over from the house is in a structural deficit, and there is an “outstanding chance” there will be additional cuts. There’s “gonna be a ton of pain” and it will be felt across the state budget. No group will be considered to be more important than any other. Remember higher education was cut $3.1 million on the House side.
And there’s more bad news. The current year’s revenues may be down $500 - $600 million, which could take reserves down to the 4 percent range. Legislators expect updated numbers by Friday. The session ends in eight days.
As Senate Finance wrestles with the budget, the work of the Legislature goes on, though warily as procedural tensions elevate between the two houses. House Education gave a unanimous Do Pass to SB 153, which calls for development of a uniform articulation agreement for all post-secondary institutions that grants college credit for prior military service. That bill enjoys strong support.
Bills that call for spending new money are dead in the water, or at least in the finance committees. House Bill 268, which asks for $300,000 for UNM’s Manufacturing Engineering Program was tabled in House Appropriations this afternoon, along with a number of other bills seeking additional funding.