This morning, the Legislative Finance Committee released its 2011-12 budget estimates. The LFC budget calls for $5.39 billion in spending (a $187 million increase over FY10-11) and estimates a total deficit of $214.9 million, a figure lower than previous estimates.
"This is a starting point," LFC Chairman Lucky Varela, D-Santa Fe, told SFR after a press conference at the capitol this morning. "We will take into consideration the governor's proposals."
Gov. Susana Martinez told reporters yesterday that her budget will be released on Monday. So far this year, executive budgets have estimated higher deficits ($410 to $450 million) than legislative ones ($215 to $250 million).
The crux of the new budget lies in the disappearance of federal stimulus funds. As those funds evaporate in 2011 and 2012, New Mexico will have to take fiscal responsibility for programs where federal stimulus grants had been filling in the gaps. Varela says that's why state funding for certain programs is increasing--even though the programs themselves aren't changing.
"It's not an increase in the program, but it's a replacement of [federal] stimulus funds with [state] general fund" dollars, Varela says.
Public education is one of the major areas of increase, with a $37 million bump over FY10-11 spending. Varela says legislators will be looking at ways to make the state's Public Education Department "a strong oversight agency" to ensure that public education dollars are actually going to the classroom.
The overall increase in spending, $187 million, is offset by a projected revenue increase of $186 million due to cuts made by the Richardson and Martinez administrations.
LFC Director David Abbey says the new budget calls for the elimination of 500 state employee positions, in addition to the 2,400 already eliminated since Gov. Richardson's hiring freeze began in 2008.
Now for the numbers...
Appropriations for FY11-12, according to LFC budget:
Education (public + higher ed): $3.11 billion ($2.2 billion of that goes to the State Equalization Guarantee for public schools) (total increase of 0.3% over FY2010-11)
Medicaid: $854 million (total increase of 42.2% due to declining stimulus funding)
Other human services: $99.4 million (-4.7%)
Dept. of Corrections: $251.9 million (-4.1%)
Dept. of Health: $282.7 million (+8.8%)
Dept. of Public Safety: $86 million (-2.4%)
Dept. of Finance & Administration: $13.5 million (-4.3%)
DFA (special appropriations): $8.3 million (-17%)
Economic Development Dept.: $6.5 million (-15.6%)
Cultural Affairs Dept.: $27.8 million (-5.4%)
Children, Youth & Families Dept: $190.6 million (+3.9%)
General Services Dept.: $13.6 million (-4.2%)
Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources Dept.: $20.3 million (-6.5%)
Environment Dept.: $13.4 million (-5.6%)
State Engineer: $15.9 million (-9.1%)
Tourism Dept.: $8.3 million (-8.8%)
Taxation & Revenue Dept.: $58.2 million (-5.5%)
Workforce Solutions Dept.: $2.4 million (-50%)
Aging & Long-Term Services Dept.: $40.9 million (-8.7%)
Courts: $136.7 million (-1%)
District Attorneys: $55.8 million (-1.1%)
Public Defender: $39 million (-1.8%)
All other agencies: $108.7 million (-8.1%)
These numbers represent cuts of 3.5 percent, on average.