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Morning Word: State's Cash Reserves Drained

August 25, 2016, 7:30 am
Gloomy Budget News
State state’s day-to-day operations reserve fund is down to zero and lawmakers are scrambling to figure out how to plug a $654 million budget hole before a special session.
Legislative Finance Committee members heard the bad news from legislative staff and members of Gov. Susana Martinez’s Cabinet. The numbers were more dire than anticipated because the general fund reserve balance ended fiscal 2016 in the negative.
Martinez’ Poll Numbers Hit New Low
Gov. Susana Martinez’ approval mark continues to sink. New Mexico Political Report’s new poll shows Republicans still approve of her job performance, but overall the gov's ranking is down to to 43 percent.

PRC Orders Gives PNM Another Chance
If the Public Service Company wants to bring its share of the Palo Verde nuclear plant into electric rates here, they’ll have to provide the Public Regulation Commission the cost-benefit analysis that they failed to include during the original case hearing and give regulators access to a data modeling program, according to an order issued by commissioners Wednesday.
The order reflects the primary points of disagreement between PNM and hearing examiner Carolyn Glick, who recommended a rate increase far lower than the one PNM had requested.

Her Aug. 4 recommended decision slashed PNM’s rate hike request by two-thirds, from an increase of $123.5 million in annual revenue to $41.3 million. PNM customers on average would see their bills rise by 6.4 percent under the recommended decision, rather than 14.4 percent under the utility’s request.

PNM officials have said they will file an appeal with the state Supreme Court if the PRC adopts the recommended decision without changes. The company has said it will have to lay off up to 300 employees if the recommended decision stands.
School Grades
Santa Fe Schools are still struggling to make the grade with several still getting D’s and F’s. But the latest round of scores show 10 local schools got a better grade this year. The state bases grades on scores on a number of standardized tests, improvement from prior years as a school and among individual students, classroom practices that use proven teaching methods and student attendance. A number of bonus points that can be secured through parent involvement, extracurricular offerings and reducing truancy. 

About Face
A day after rejecting an expensive tax incentive package, Utah officials are reversing direction and restarting economic negotiations with Facebook to build its new data processing center outside Salt Lake City. The social media giant is also considering building it in Los Lunas, where officials there have already approved incentives worth more than a billion over time.

Grants Police Officer Busted
New Mexico State Police arrested Grants Police Sgt. Roshern C. McKinney, 33, and his girlfriend Wednesday in Albuquerque on marijuana distribution, conspiracy and felony embezzlement charges. McKinney is accused of failing to deliver an 8-ounce brick of marijuana to the department’s evidence locker room and embezzling $750.

Sci-Fi Escape
While most people consider moving to Canada or New Zealand if the Cheeto-colored candidate wins the White House, you might dream about zipping a few trillion miles through space. Scientists have discovered a planet similar to earth with mild temperatures orbiting the next closest sun to ours.

 

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Morning Word: Death Penalty Reinstatement Would Cost State Millions

Morning Word At the same time New Mexico lawmakers are trying to shore up the state’s budget, the New Mexico Public Defender's Office is questioning the costs associated with reinstating the death penalty.  ... More

Sept. 22, 2016 by Peter St. Cyr

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