Senate panel OKs budget based on higher taxes

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By Barry Massey

 SANTA FE — A state budget proposal by a Senate committee calls for $150 million in new revenues from tax measures and requiring public employees to pay more for their pensions.

The pension change assumed in the budget will save the state $44 million next year, but will lower take-home pay of state workers and educators by a similar amount.

The Finance Committee approved the budget on Thursday and sent it to the Senate for consideration.

The committee proposed spending about $5.5 billion in the next fiscal year, which starts in July. That includes about $200 million in federal aid that’s replacing state money for Medicaid, public schools and higher education.

The budget represents a 3.5 percent reduction from what the state plans to spend this year on education and governmental programs, including health care provided through Medicaid for the needy and uninsured children.

A House-passed budget would cut spending

1.5 percent next year and it relied on about $300 million in tax increases.

The Senate committee assumes about $150 million in new revenue will be generated from taxes and it trimmed about $150 million in spending from the House-passed budget. The savings include 1 percent across the board cuts in programs and agencies. Public schools would get less money for rising insurance costs.

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