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Budgets share the same pain

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By Hal Rhodes

Few New Mexico lawmakers walked away from the Roundhouse enamored with the state budget they were leaving behind to Gov. Bill Richardson’s tender mercies after adjournment of last week’s special legislative session.

It had been a textbook case of the state Legislature at work on a budget grievously out of balance: bickering and complaining while the difficult decisions were being made, followed by the obligatory post-session congratulatory platitudes when it was over.

Even some of the complainers knew deep down that the formula they had settled on for upping certain taxes (including the cigarette tax by a whopping 75 cents per pack) and cutting many state agencies’ funding was the best of the bad options they had at their disposal when it came to balancing expenditures against anticipated revenues in the midst of the Great Recession.

They knew, too, that whatever they did would be unpopular in sundry quarters. And, sure enough, Republicans bellowed about the tax hikes, and advocacy groups worried about program cuts that will harm children and the poor and disadvantaged.

If misery does indeed love company, New Mexicans will find plenty of it around the country where the same chorus of complaints is erupting in virtually every state in the union.  


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