SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico's Legislature convenes at noon on Tuesday to forge a budget aimed at keeping pace with soaring health care costs for low-income residents, stimulating a sluggish state economy and possibly increasing pay to teachers and police.
The 30-day budgetary session leaves little time to spare, and legislators already are clamoring to push through major policy initiatives designed to address concerns about violent crime and public corruption.
At the same time, Republican Gov. Susan Martinez and lawmakers are under pressure from the federal government to resolve a stalemate over immigrant driver's licenses and the state's failure to comply with the REAL ID Act.
Political stakes are high with every legislative seat coming up for election in November. Republicans hope to extend their control of the lower House to the Senate, where Democrats hold 24 out of 42 seats.
Legislative leaders are largely in agreement with the governor on priorities for a nearly $6.5 billion budget proposal that increases spending 3.7 percent. A third of new spending would go toward new state Medicaid expenses.