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The Latest: New Mexico governor eyes special session

Mar 17, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on efforts to resolve a New Mexico state budget crisis (all times local): 4:45 p.m. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez could call a special Legislative session immediately after the regular session ends at noon on Saturday, and may add non-budget items. Martinez chief of staff Keith Gardner said the Republican governor largely is focused on fiscal matters as New Mexico faces a budget crunch due to declining revenues from oil and gas. However, Gardner says Martinez reserves the right to add "other important" issues. He declined to say which non-budget proposals she would ask lawmakers to tackle in a special session. Martinez and the Democratic-led Legislature are locked in a showdown over the state's budget. The New Mexico Legislature approved on Friday a $6.1 billion budget plan and companion tax increase for the coming fiscal. However, Martinez has warned that she would not sign any tax increases. ____ 3:45 p.m. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is preparing for a state government shutdown amid a budget standoff between the Republican and the Democratic-controlled Legislature. Martinez chief of staff Keith Gardner said Friday the governor's office is exploring how the shutdown would work and which non-essential agencies will close. The state's cash is expected to run out next month without a balanced budget. The New Mexico Legislature approved on Friday a $6.1 billion budget plan and companion tax increase for the coming fiscal. However, Martinez has warned that she would not sign any tax increases. Instead, she is asking state lawmakers to agree to certain cuts. Gardner says the governor was hopeful a budget deal could be reached by noon Saturday. If no agreement is reached, Gardner says Martinez likely will call a special session. ____ 12:20 p.m. The New Mexico Legislature has approved $6.1 billion budget plan and companion tax increase for the coming fiscal year that would increase funding to public school and hold spending steady at most government agencies. The Democrat-led House of Representatives voted along party lines Friday to approve $280 million in increases to taxes and fees, followed by a voice vote to approve the budget. The budget and tax bills now goes to Republican Gov. Susana Martinez for consideration. The governor opposes tax increases included in the package. The budget bill would increase general fund spending increase of $23 million for the fiscal year starting in July. Funding would increase by 0.5 percent for K-12 public schools and by 2.5 percent for a judiciary branch that has struggled this year to pay salaries, compensate jurors and provide attorneys to poor defendants. The proposal cuts funding to state universities, colleges and specialty schools by 1 percent. ____ 12:10 p.m. The New Mexico Legislature has approved roughly $280 million from new taxes and fees to bridge a general fund budget shortfall for the coming fiscal year. The Democrat-led House voted 37-32 Friday on a revenue plan that would raise taxes and fees on gasoline and diesel sales, retail sales over the internet, trucking permits and nonprofit hospitals. House lawmakers in the Republican minority want any agreement on revenue increases to include an overhaul of the state's gross receipts tax to eliminate an array tax breaks including exemptions for nonprofits. Democratic lawmakers warn that without new revenue streams additional funding cuts to public schools and state agencies are inevitable. The new taxes and fees also are designed to rebuild depleted state reserves to protect the state's credit rating.