The Legislative Finance Committee recommended Friday that lawmakers increase state spending by 4.3 percent in the next fiscal year, bringing the total budget to f $6.15 billion, a $253.5 million hike over what's being spent during the 2014 fiscal year.--
The governor's office is also expected to introduce its own budget proposal before the Legislature convenes on Jan. 21, when during a 30-day session the two branches of government will hash out the differences in how to spend millions of taxpayer dollars, with lawmakers hoping the governor won't veto the budget bills they send to her desk and instead will sign them into law.
Rep. Luciano "Lucky" Varela, D-Santa Fe, pictured above at the podium, chairs the LFC, a panel that provides fiscal oversight on state spending and gives recommendations of how that money should be spent.
In a press conference Friday, Varela and other members of the committee unveiled their recommendations that this year, lawmakers and the governor agree to increase early childhood initiatives by $35 million, $12 million of which would be put to early childhood initiatives and the program K-3 Plus, $4 million for home visits for high-risk families with infants and $10 million to pre-kindergarten initiatives.
Notably, the plan also includes a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase for all state, public school and higher education employees, which would cost the state about $50 million.
The panel says that funding for higher education and public schools makes up about 58 percent of its budget recommendation. It proposes to pump $2.7 billion more in spending on public schools, a five percent increase from the current fiscal year.
Read the panel's full recommendations here.