Lawmaker Proposes Budget Fix

New Mexico – Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez wants to use $2 billion from a state endowment fund to help solve New Mexico's budget problems.

Sanchez said Wednesday the money can minimize the need for tax increases and protect against cuts in education and health care for the needy in the next few years. The Belen Democrat says he will introduce the proposal when the Legislature meets in January.

Taking money from the Land Grant Permanent Fund will require a change in the state Constitution and voter approval. Sanchez said his proposal will require repayment of the money.

The permanent fund had a market value of nearly $9 billion at the end of September. The fund makes a yearly payout for schools and other public institutions, including colleges.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.