State's finances look pretty good, job growth approaches zero

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By Harold Morgon

Looking ahead at the coming budget year for state government, the overall view from the Legislative Finance Committee is, “All of a sudden we find ourselves in a pretty good fiscal situation.”
That means that $293 million in “new money” should appear during the year starting July 1, 2014, LFC Director David Abbey told the Legislative Outlook Conference of the New Mexico Tax Research Institute.
The conference was Dec. 19 in Albuquerque, attracted the central players in the New Mexico tax conversation, about 150 business people, lobbyists, economists, legislators, government officials and policy wonks.
The new money results from 5.5 percent growth in revenue to the general fund, the state’s main operating pot of money, and declining Medicaid costs, which eat one-sixth of the budget, Abbey said. The 2014 legislative session offers “quite a good opportunity to address the needs,” he said.
The new financial situation follows a tough few years. Fiscal years 2009 and 2010 saw a 20 percent drop in general fund revenue. During the next two years, the state fought to maintain key services and adequate reserves. Then the state had to undo the previous four years of patches.

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