To raise or not to raise the issue

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By Ralph Damiani

The governor announced his budget proposal this week. It calls for some cuts and some increase in tax collections to balance the budget.

He says he does not see the need for a tax hike.

We wish him well.

Does anyone really think the Legislature will go along with Richardson and cut education? They are perhaps the strongest lobby around.

Cut education?

His plan to hold the line on capital projects has a chance, but when it comes to each legislator’s particular project, when this idea is dealt one project at a time, can this idea really work?

We think not.

 Richardson is right to say we need some restraint this year. But when has the legislature ever shown restraint?

For that matter, when has the governor?

We must face the reality that we have over spent and over counted our revenue. We have spent way too much for the revenue that has come in.

There must be cuts to make ends meet. And we are required by law to have a balanced budget.

If all we do is dip into our cash reserves we are in big trouble.

And this is not small money. We are looking at at least a $450 million discrepancy between revenues and expenses for the remainder of this year and an even gloomier prospect next year.

The National Conference of State Legislatures estimated in its State Budget Update issued last month that altogether the states will have to close a $97 billion budget gap over the next 18 to 24 months.

While it is nice for the governor to say that compared to other states, New Mexico is not so bad, that does not help our deficit situation.

Even if we manage to hold the line on capital projects and get some cuts in education, we find it hard to see how that equals the money we are short. It simply does not add up.

We agree with Rep. Jeanette Wallace that this will a crazy, disorganized session.

At the end of the day we think it will be very hard for the governor to live up to his promise of no tax hikes.

That, we fear, will be hard to do.