Finance Agency: State revenues up; Gov’s furlough, closing threats just politics

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At the close of the legislative session, Gov. Martinez made statewide news announcing huge gaps in state revenue that required her to close state parks and museums and furlough state workers if the legislature did not pass her preferred version of the state budget.

That threat appears to be based on a lie a new report from the state’a leading finance agency. 

The state is on track to end the year at least $71 million ahead of projections, according to the report and other financial data.

From the Santa Fe New Mexican

A revenue forecast for the state of New Mexico released Friday indicates that Gov. Susana Martinez is wrong about the need for employee furloughs or a hiring freeze to balance spending for the remaining two months of the fiscal year, according to a top university economist.
The budget tracking report from the Legislative Finance Committee indicates “revenues continue to appear on track or exceed expectations from the December forecast.” It projects that the state general fund will close out the 2017 fiscal year at $54 million, or 1 percent, above expectations…

An economics professor, asked by The New Mexican to review the revenue tracking report, said Martinez’s talk of furloughs isn’t supported by the revenue forecast.
“The data is the data and it’s tracking pretty well,” said Jim Peach, a professor of economics at New Mexico State University. “We’re right on track, and there’s no need for furloughs or hiring freezes or anything like extraordinary measures for [fiscal year 2017].”

And AFSCME’s Carter Bundy tells the New Mexican that Martinez is also ignoring the influx of new funds will be available before the end of the year. 

That sentiment was echoed Friday by Carter Bundy, the lobbyist for AFSCME, the largest public employees union in the state.
He said the new forecast doesn’t even take into account $16 million of unspent money from the Human Services Department, which will revert to the general fund this month.

“Furloughs were not necessary a few weeks ago, and today’s announcement of a $71 million improvement in expected revenues makes furloughs even less defensible,” Bundy said.

On Friday, legislators filed a lawsuit alleging the governor’s vetoes of he entire legislative branch funding and all funding for state colleges and universities violates the Constitution.

Read more: Legislature files lawsuit against Gov. Martinez

Read more: Gov. Martinez vetoed the legislature’s entire budget in spiteful budget battle