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Highway finance still is the elephant in the room

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By Harold Morgan

No additional money will appear during the next year or so for construction and maintenance of New Mexico’s roads and highways, barring a special session of the Legislature, an event that Gov. Susana Martinez said March 30 was highly unlikely.
More money was in the deal that wasn’t a deal at the end of the recent legislative session. The opinions about sources of money were strongly held. No compromise wandered into the negotiations, and so nothing happened.
The administration and the Legislature again kicked the proverbial can down the, ummm, road.
The administration wanted to move motor vehicle excise tax revenue (around $144 million, this budget year) back into the road fund from the general fund, which would punch an equal hole in the general fund.
The road fund, source of construction and maintenance money, is different from the general fund, which is allocated by the budget.
The administration also figures it is OK to borrow against severance tax revenue, something legislators oppose partly because road construction money was borrowed under the Gary Johnson administration and the payments still eat a nasty piece of the money that is available for roads.
The Democrats proposed raising the gasoline tax, a move the governor opposes. Nyahh, so there, they said to one another, and the session ended.


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