Off and On: Economy growing – so why are we suffering?

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By Ralph Damiani

Last week, Gov. Richardson announced that the state would have $392 million in new revenue, bringing our total of new money for one-time spending to $1 billion.

And it was announced that we ranked 12th in economic growth.

Then why are we all suffering? The answer is the same as to why the state and the economy are doing so well: high oil prices.

Richardson said the new money will be on the table when he calls the Legislature into a special session to address access to universal health coverage.

But how does that work? This is not going to be a recurring income stream and any cost of such insurance will be. When oil prices drop, then what?

Sen. John Arthur Smith, a Deming Democrat and chairman of the Legislative Finance Committee, told the Associated Press that the state should use part of this money to provide a tax rebate to help residents cope with high prices.

And he also said that some of the revenue windfall should go to help cover a highway financing shortfall, which has caused the Richardson administration to delay projects that were part of a statewide transportation package approved in 2003.

Both of these ideas make sense, more than beginning a program with non-sustainable resources.

Richardson says we can use this money as he believes our economy will continue to grow.

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