David Abbey, the longtime director of the Legislative Finance Committee, has said the state is running on fumes, and he’s not one to exaggerate.
Because the recession hangs on and oil and gas prices dropped, tax revenues were down for 11 months of the last fiscal year by a whopping $543.3 million. Even though legislators cut budgets and swept spare change from every possible corner during the last session, we’re now spending money we don’t have.
That might be a fine American tradition, but it’s illegal. The federal government can run deficits; New Mexico state government can’t.
So Democrats, now joined by some Republicans, want a special session, but the governor is waiting for numbers from the entire year – as if one month’s revenues will make a difference – before calling a special session.
Nobody likes a special session, especially during an election year, when the inevitable ugly decisions could affect votes.
But the longer they wait, the worse it gets. They’ve used cash reserves to plug the hole, so the account hovers at 1 percent of state spending, or $63 million, down from $319.8 million last year. Good governance calls for higher balances.