Gov. Susana Martinez on Friday signed two bills aimed at plugging the state’s budget deficit that cleared the New Mexico Legislature early in the recently concluded special session.
Neither bill generated much controversy during the otherwise disjointed session, which ended Thursday. Both passed the Senate hours after legislators convened in Santa Fe on Sept. 30 and flew through the House without being amended.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, and Senate Republican Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales sponsored the legislation. Each passed with enough votes to include an emergency clause, which means both go into effect immediately.
Senate Bill 4 authorizes the use of $25 million in severance tax bonds – instead of general fund money — to pay for instructional material and school transportation costs.
Senate Bill 7 stops transfers from the state general fund to two other state accounts.
The state will permanently quit making a monthly $250,000 transfer from the general fund to the Retiree Health Care Authority Fund. Beginning on July 1, 2019, the transfers will resume.
A fiscal impact report says the measure moves the projected year of insolvency for the retirement fund by three years — which means the fund is projected to become insolvent in about 15 years.
The bill will add an estimated $4.7 million to the general fund in the current year. It will add $11.5 million in the next fiscal year, which begins in July 2017.
The governor has yet to sign four other bills passed during the special session.
- SB 2, which would transfer $220 million in tobacco settlement money to the general fund. Of that, $131 million is earmarked to close the 2016 budget deficit.
- SB 9, which would cut the budgets of nearly all state agencies by 5 percent, leaving an extra $171 million in the general fund. The Department of Public Safety and the Children Youth and Families Department would be spared from any budget cuts.
- SB 8, which would transfer nearly $90 million from inactive brick-and-mortar projects to the general fund. Some of those projects would be reauthorized with severance tax bond funding.
- SB 6, which would eliminate several tax loopholes. The general fund would benefit by an estimated $10.2 million in the current fiscal year and $27.4 in the 2018 fiscal year.
There has been no indication that the governor intends to veto any of these bills.