NM lawmakers lack budget deal as session nears end

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By The Staff

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Legislature neared adjournment without an agreement on a state budget or taxes to pay for government operations in the coming year.

The Legislature's 30-day session ends at noon Thursday.

Unless a last-minute budget deal is reached, it will be necessary for lawmakers to return to work later in a special session to approve a plan for financing public schools and government services in the fiscal year starting in July.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, said a budget-balancing compromise appeared unlikely before adjournment.

"I'm pretty disappointed. We did give it a try. For a while I though we were there. I really did," Sanchez said after the Senate took a post-midnight break Thursday for lawmakers to get a few hours sleep before the final stretch to adjournment.

Legislative leaders had tried to negotiate a deal to increase gross receipts, income and cigarette taxes.

Democratic House leaders proposed increasing the cigarette tax by 75 cents a package and have tribal retailers also impose the levy. However, the measure stalled in a committee.

With a budget deal unlikely, lawmakers focused on trying to pass what they considered a must-do financial bill to replenish the state's cash reserves.

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