Commentary: The Legislature has disappointed me in the past. But I cannot recall another time where I’ve ever felt that their reckless decisions had left New Mexico hanging in the balance.
They wasted 60 days in Santa Fe on bills like official state songs and dances. And, sadly for the people of New Mexico, they left little to show – except for an unbalanced budget and one of the largest tax increases in state history.
Because of their inaction, state government is running low on money. In the last few weeks, we’ve taken steps to soften the blow. We’ve instated a hiring freeze. We’re looking at furloughing employees as early as this month. And we are facing a government shutdown – where our MVDs, museums and state parks may need to close down simply to pay other bills, like keeping the lights on in our classrooms.
We are now faced with few options.
In order to return a balanced budget to the legislature, we had to take out the entire higher education budget. But there will be time in the special session to fix the higher education budget and the rest of the flawed budget that they sent to us.
This is unfortunate because it could have all been avoided.
During the session, I provided the Legislature with over $300 million in options to balance the budget. I offered compromise. But the Senate didn’t want to come to the table. Instead, they sent a $350 million tax increase for our families to bear the burden of their inaction. This is not the way to govern.
In the coming weeks, I will call the Legislature back to Santa Fe to finish the job they were supposed to do in the first place. I believe that by working together, we can balance the budget – without tax increases. While I’m disappointed in them, I am optimistic that we can come together.