Garcia Richard Pushes During Legislative Finance Committee To Protect Children From Budget Cuts

State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-Los Alamos) participated in the Legislative Finance Committee’s hearing in Red River that heard revenue forecasts and discussed how to address a projected shortfall. Courtesy photo

‘We cannot fix the budget on the backs of our kids,’ State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard said at last week’s Legislative Finance Committee’ hearing in Red River. Courtesy photo

Staff Report

RED RIVER – Unexpectedly low revenues from oil and gas are threatening the State of New Mexico’s budget for the current fiscal year. Last week State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-Los Alamos) participated in the Legislative Finance Committee’s hearing in Red River that heard revenue forecasts and discussed how to address a projected shortfall.

The LFC and the Department of Finance released the newest revenue forecasts, projecting that New Mexico faces a $330 million projected shortfall, and in the out-years state spending is projected to outstrip revenues by $110 million per year. 

To address this shortfall DFA and LFC staff presented the committee with different solvency scenarios, including sweeping funds from unused accounts, using the tobacco settlement funds, and cutting spending in state government. According to the New Mexico Department of Finance, funding to New Mexico’s schools makes up the largest portion of the state’s budget.

Rep. Garcia Richard who represents Los Alamos and surrounding communities was a vocal advocate for protecting funding that goes to schools and children.

“We cannot fix the budget on the backs of our kids,” Garcia Richard said during committee, later adding, “Fixing the budget shortfall is not going to be easy but we cannot balance the budget by undermining our schools and services that protect our children.”

Garcia Richard, a member of the House Finance committee, participated in the discussion on how to fix the current shortfall but after the meeting said, “These fixes we are discussing will get us past the current crisis, but over the long-term we need to address our over-reliance on the oil and gas industry by nurturing economic growth in the tech sector and other industries. Fostering tech spinoffs from our national laboratories is a key part to growing our economy.”

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