Most action during the 2016 legislative session beginning Jan. 19 looks to come in bits and pieces.
Beyond the bits, the action will be political posturing for the 2016 election and, maybe, incremental movement on the big topics of tax reform and highways.
This conclusion comes from more than four hours of listening to senior state government officials, “interested stakeholders,” four legislators and Scott Darnell, deputy chief of staff for Gov. Susana Martinez. The occasion was the annual legislative outlook conference of the New Mexico Tax Research Institute, held Dec. 17 in Albuquerque.
The constraints are lack of money for anything exciting and the governor’s agenda, or crabby types might say, the non-agenda other than education.
“New money,” projected at $231.7 million, is defined as expected recurring revenue in the coming year minus recurring spending this year. That $231.7 million is up 3.7 percent from the current year appropriation but down $62 million from the August forecast.
David Abbey, director of the Legislative Finance Committee, began with recounting past crunch times for the state. “I am confident we can get through it again,” he said.