NM budget deficit at $450M

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By Barry Massey

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The top financial official in Gov. Bill Richardson's administration estimates New Mexico faces a budget shortfall of at least $450 million next year, which is larger than previously projected.

The worsening budget outlook adds to the problems confronting Republican Gov.-elect Susana Martinez, who takes office in January.

Finance and Administration Secretary Dannette Burch outlined the latest budget shortfall estimate to The Associated Press. The figures include higher Medicaid costs and some growth in spending for agencies for insurance and other expenses next year.

The Legislative Finance Committee has estimated that New Mexico is at least $260 million short of what's needed next year to maintain current services. The LFC uses a different approach in making its estimate than the administration.