Lawmaker's Perspective: The coming fiscal year

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By Pete Campos

The New Mexico Legislature did a lot of work during the regular 30-day session to prepare good tax policy proposals to fill the “sinkholes” that are threatening the provision of core government services.

Although we had a 30-day window to set the framework to raise sufficient revenues to fund an efficient level of government and to compose a prudent budget, revenue projections have been volatile and we’ve been getting reliable indications that revenues are falling further, perhaps by as much as $100 million.  

The legislature needs more time to craft a budget and approve revenue initiatives. Our focus is on doing this job right to avoid another special legislative session.

The House Appropriations and Finance Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have members who have years of experience and have worked through many budget situations in the past, including the need in 2002 to call ourselves back into an extraordinary session to approve a budget over the veto of the governor.

This special legislative session will continue the positive communication that’s occurred among the members of the finance and tax committees. We are moving forward to gain the confidence of the general public.

Strength in government is not achieved if there is not communication among all branches of government, consideration of solid budgeting and good tax policies, close consultation with the seasoned finance committee members and communication among all legislators to seek their ideas, understand their sentiments and receive the valuable input they bring to the table from their constituents.

Our budgetary policy must be clear and consistent. For example, we cannot talk about only cutting expenditures and then turn around and pass tax credits, capital outlay expenditures and appropriations to meet the needs of a few selective groups. As a body, we must discuss the whole picture so that the public understands our methodology, the difference between recurring and nonrecurring expenditures and what we are taxing and what we are funding. We must resist last-minute inclusions of requests for appropriations without full disclosure, so that the public understands what we are doing.

Transparency, collaboration and disclosure of the rationale behind the approach we are setting in government are imperative if we are going to earn the public trust.

State Sen. Pete Campos serves District 8. He may be reached at petecampos@newmexico.com.