First budget fix bill goes to NM governor

By Deborah Baker: The Associated Press

SANTA FE — New Mexico lawmakers have sent Gov. Bill Richardson the first bill in a package of measures to fix a $650 million budget shortfall.

The legislation frees up $117 million, largely by raiding the cash balances of state agencies and taking $68 million from a college scholarship fund.

Opponents of the bill complained the one-time cash infusion was a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

It got final approval from the Legislature on Thursday, the sixth day of a special session that was called to patch this year’s $5.5 billion state budget.

The package is expected to include cuts as well as fund transfers. Lawmakers were still trying to agree on how much education and other state programs should be cut.