State Senate President Pro Tem Says 5% Cut Necessary This Year

Santa Fe, NM – One of the leaders of the New Mexico State Senate is questioning whether Governor Bill Richardson's call for an additional 3 percent cut to state agency expenditures will be enough.

Richardson earlier this week ordered agencies to find that amount in their budgets for consideration by lawmakers later this year. But Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings, a Roswell Democrat, in a letter to the press Wednesday, said the state's fiscal crisis requires a 5 percent across-the-board cut.

Jennings says he would support cutting back on unnecessary state agency travel, paring down or consolidating contracts, and looking at reducing some tax credits and exemptions.

He also cites as an example of wasteful spending an unnamed state agency that has issued half of its employees SmartPhones at 1-thousand-dollars-a-year. Jennings noted that state spending has grown nearly 40 percent over the past six years, a rate he says has been unsustainable.

He says gross receipts, personal, and income taxes have continued to decline this year, and that the 2010 fiscal year budget will be 1 billion dollars below last year's original appropriations level.

While Jennings acknowledges that the outlook for the 2011 fiscal year is less grim, he says the state has -quote- "never in its history experienced a fiscal crisis of this magnitude" -unquote- . Lawmakers are expected to convene in October for a short special session to deal with the worsening state budget.