Senator says state budget would be guesswork

Staff and wire reports

Even by postponing the special session till Monday, the state Senate minority leader says the governor is still asking the legislature to guess at a budget.

Tuesday, Gov. Bill Richardson moved the start of the special session, originally planned for Wednesday, to next week in response to requests from legislators.

Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, said he is skeptical about a projected 6 percent increase in revenues and thinks it dangerous to budget based on projections until there is reason to believe they may be accurate.

“It is pure guess work at this point unless we have more accurate information. The revenue information we are dealing with is very optimistic, too optimistic,” he said in a written statement.

“Frankly, we should not be here for another six weeks, after the first quarter’s estimated revenue is known. But waiting until Monday for a special session is better than tomorrow because it allows for more time to work out an agreement.”

Ingle said a projected growth of 6 percent is enough that, “We will be in trouble again if the revenue does not come in.”

The special session was called after the legislature adjourned Feb. 18 following a 30-day session ending without a budget.

Richardson says he had requests from House and Senate leaders for more time to negotiate spending cuts and tax increases before they resume debate over a state budget.

Richardson says he feels the state needs a budget sooner than later, despite concerns by some lawmakers about waiting for updated revenue projections.

Ingle said another concern is federal stimulus dollars have been used for projects that are reoccurring and the state could suffer iffederal money is not received again.

Ingle said the Senate passed a “decent” budget, however the House never heard it prior to the end of the session.

He said he does not believe the Senate will vote for an increase in the gross receipts tax that the House leadership is supporting, and the Senate might adjust what it has recommended on the food tax.