Their view: Millions can be saved throughout state

Paul Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, which promotes limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility.

He kicked around ideas for cutting New Mexico’s budget deficit in a recent column:

There is no doubt governor-elect Susana Martinez faces a difficult task. Not only does she have to put together an administration to operate (and hopefully improve) New Mexico’s sprawling government, she now faces at least a $450 million deficit that must be dealt with in the next legislative session.

Some places to start:

• Taxpayers could save $60 million annually by repealing legislation that expanded the impact of New Mexico’s law relating to the Prevailing Wage Rate on Public Works Projects. This prevailing wage law should be repealed and work should be done at market rates.

• New Mexico spends approximately $50,000 annually on salary and benefits for each government employee. With 22,000 state employees (not including higher education), New Mexico could save $20 million simply by reducing the work force by 4,000, less than 2 percent of the state’s total work force. Considering that New Mexico’s government work force is 51 percent larger than the average state’s, a cut of this size is tiny.

•New Mexico taxpayers could save at least $20 million annually by shutting down the Rail Runner and its “feeder” bus routes and re-directing the state subsidies for that system elsewhere.

•$19.5 million could be saved by diverting most non-violent drug offenders out of prisons and diverting from prison probationers and parolees who are revoked for technical violations of their supervision.

• New Mexico could save $30 million annually — and gain better control of its budget — by capping the state’s 25 percent film subsidy at $30 million annually (the program cost $60 million last year).