Lawmakers propose canceling projects

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Capital improvement projects could be on the chopping block

By Barry Massey

SANTA FE — Thousands of capital improvement projects, from school playgrounds to water system upgrades, would be scrapped under a proposal by a group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

The legislation could provide nearly $150 million to help replenish New Mexico’s cash reserves, which have been drained because of recent budget problems.

The measure will run into strong opposition because projects would be canceled in communities across New Mexico and in the home districts of legislators.

“It’s sort of a poison pill for a lot of members on both sides of the aisle,” one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, said Tuesday.

On the chopping block are projects that haven’t moved forward, in some instances for years, because not enough money was initially approved to complete all necessary work. In addition, the legislation will pull back leftover money from some projects that have been finished.

Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration helped in assembling the list of projects, but the governor continues to negotiate with legislators which ones should be canceled, said Gilbert Gallegos, a spokesman for Richardson.

If the Legislature doesn’t free up money by eliminating capital projects, lawmakers could be forced to cut

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