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Deficit going up? Where does the money go?

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE ­— We’re not out of the woods yet. Have you noticed that our state budget deficit grows about $100 million a month beyond projections?

Last March, the 2009 Legislature plugged a $500 million hole. The budget reduction was projected to get us through until July 2010. But by August 2009 we were already over $400 million further in the hole.

In September, that deficit rose to $550 million and in October, it was $660 million. At this rate, by January, when the 2010 Legislature convenes, we’ll be another $300 million deeper in the hole.

When will the slide end? New Mexico’s economy runs behind the curve so the national picture will have to start looking better first. The way it’s going, we’ll have to start rooting for $4 a gallon gasoline to return. Since our state’s revenues depend so much on the oil and gas industry, that should take us back to financial health.

Meanwhile Gov. Bill Richardson is pushing back at those who make him the culprit for New Mexico’s desperate economic situation. Even Democrats, most notably Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, a lieutenant governor candidate, have criticized Richardson’s big-spending ways for getting us into trouble.


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