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As the legislative session winds down and the final budget is crafted, I can’t help but reflect on one of the great tragedies of current state government. With every tax break, education program, special interest and critical line item being accounted for, it is easy to forget that our state government is awash in cash.
There are hundreds of millions of unused tax dollars — excess bonding capacity and thousands of unfilled jobs — tucked away throughout state government.
Meanwhile, critical government services, water projects, ‘big idea’ education and economic development investment proposals fall to the wayside. We have the resources to move New Mexico forward but they remain unused.
This past year, $65 million was reverted back to the general fund from state agency budgets. A large portion of what was appropriated for the Children, Youth and Families Department for positions was unused and many positions remain unfilled. In addition, $45 million for new jobs was transferred to other parts of the budget to be used for contractors, vehicles and equipment. Another $8 million for text books remains unspent.
All of this is even before considering the nearly $40 million shipped out of state to for-profit standardized testing and evaluation, and the new Arizona behavioral health providers.
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