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Hey candidates, what about the $716 million?

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By Harold Morgon

The immediate attention of the next governor and, therefore, the attention of the general election candidates, should focus on a number: $236 million. That’s the difference between forecast general fund revenue for the next budget year, fiscal 2012, and the amount needed to maintain current service levels. (The general fund is the principal source of money for state government.)

The $236 million figure was unveiled May 20 by Tom Clifford, chief economist for the Legislative Finance Committee. Clifford spoke to a conference held by the New Mexico Tax Research Institute.

The budget, uh, challenge comes with a big change from the past couple of years. The federal stimulus Duct Tape that has bandaged the state budget is gone.

The Duct Tape, under the monikers of “one time funds” and “one time savings” totals $480 million. So the real number is $716 million.

So, dudes, what are you gonna do? Specifically?

And what are you going to do, specifically, about the other two revenue/spending disasters—transportation and pensions.

Corruption is the only other big and relevant issue in the campaign. Handling corruption depends largely on the character of the new governor.


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