New Mexico lawmakers ended their special session this weekend. They sent Governor Bill Richardson a package of bills aimed at fixing a $650 million shortfall in their budget. The cuts include a two percent budget trimming in state agencies, and $253 million in slashed spending this year in schools and colleges and state programs.
How will the cuts affect a city like Clovis? Mayor Gayla Brumfield tells me her city, at least at this point, is happy.
"We feel very fortunate that our particular projects were left intact so far," Brumfield said in a phone interview Sunday. "We had a couple things that were actually mentioned to be put on the chopping block, and then they decided to remove them." She said the important projects that survived were a plan to re-use effluent water and improvements for the Melrose Bombing Range. "We didn't have a lot that was on there, but we feel pretty good. For the special session, they did what they had to to get the budget to where they needed it for now. But the session in January is going to be a really tough one as well."
Critics of what the special session produced say the spending cuts were not deep enough. They say the state could be in worse trouble when lawmakers come back for their regular session three months from now. Brumfield says that will spur a new round of concern and vigilance.
"We're going to have more of a deficit than what we've been thinking. so we will be up there - as far as the city is concerned - we will be up in Santa Fe looking at our projects and making sure we're going to be there and trying to keep as much as we possibly can. But you will see some cuts. I don't know exactly what or where they will be, but it's going to be, from what we were told, a pretty tough session, so we will really be on top of that."
Brumfield summed up her reaction to the special session as "happy, but wary."
The package lawmakers came up with also includes shuffling state money around and filling some gaps with federal stimulus money.