Legislature adjourns without budget deal, special session coming up

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By The Staff





SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Legislature adjourned Thursday without a plan on how to finance public schools and state government in the coming year, marking the first time in 26 years that lawmakers finished a regular session without reaching a budget deal.

Shortly after lawmakers wrapped up their 30-day session, Gov. Bill Richardson announced a special session to deal with the state budget would open Wednesday. A special session will cost about $50,000 a day.

"New Mexico taxpayers want a solution. They don't want to wait," said Richardson. "We don't need another month or two of indecision. I think it's important that we move as rapidly as we can."

House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe, said the Senate and House were unable to bridge their differences over increasing taxes to balance the budget. Legislative leaders tried to negotiate a deal to plug a hole in the budget with revenues from gross receipts, income and cigarette taxes.

House Republican Whip Keith Gardner of Roswell summed up the feelings of his GOP colleagues: "We frustrated."

"We were sitting here for a purpose, which was the budget, and everything else should have taken a back seat," he said.

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