Santa Fe, NM - Today, House Democrats presented their priorities for bringing in new money to the state. According to newly released numbers from the nonpartisan Legislative Finance Committee, the state will need an additional $120-125 million to balance the budget in fiscal year 2018. The House Appropriations and Finance Committee estimates that an additional $125 million will be needed to shore up New Mexico's cash reserves and prevent another downgrade of the state's bond rating.
"We know the consequences of doing nothing are further cuts," said House Speaker Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe). "Without additional revenue coming in to the state, classroom sizes increase, lack of access to healthcare, not just Medicaid, but also behavioral health, environmental enforcement and on and on. These programs face critical cuts that could not just destabilize the programs' effectiveness, but also hit working families extremely hard. This is a future that we must avoid."
In order to minimize further cuts to vital state programs, House Democrats have proposed a four-pronged priority package to increase the state's revenue by an estimated $212 million in FY18 and $214 million in FY19.
Chair of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, Rep. Patty Lundstrom (D-Gallup), said: "Without new revenues we are looking at an additional two to four percent cuts across the board, and would not be able to build our reserves to the level that we need."
Democrats gathered this afternoon at the state's capitol to present the details of this four-pronged plan to reporters. HB 202, coupled with further revenue-enhancing bills, is designed to close existing tax loopholes and to make our system of taxation more fair and more modern to reflect a 21st century economy.
"This is a way out," said acting Chair of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee, Rep. Carl Trujillo (D-Santa Fe). "Building revenue is the responsible thing to do to avoid further cuts that affect our children and their education."
"Our schools and our healthcare systems and our courts have spoken and we have heard them and are ready to move forward," said Majority Leader Sheryl Stapleton (D-Albuquerque). "New revenues are our solution. As Democrats in the House and the majority, we say no more cuts. We will pass new revenue for a better quality of life for all New Mexicans."
In recent years, New Mexico has been forced to make across-the-board budget cuts and lay-offs in vital areas, such as education, health care, and public safety.