The Senate Finance Committee shelved a proposal Saturday to appropriate an additional $335 million in federal coronavirus relief funds for various public health projects.

The proposal, known as Senate Bill 9, called for spending $50 million to construct and equip a new school of public health at the University of New Mexico and expanding behavioral health services statewide, among other initiatives.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle described it a bold idea that would tackle a hugely important issue in New Mexico.

But they said the proposal needed further consideration beyond the special legislative session, which is expected to end in the next few days. They hope to bring it back during the regular 30-day session that begins next month.

"I don't see anything wrong here except timing," said Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington. "What I would recommend is that we do this in the regular session and in the meantime, in between Christmas and New Year's and whatever else is going on there, we get some more information about this, exactly what it would do."

(2) comments

Michael Kiley

OK, Senate Finance Committee, I love for reading and absorbing the labyrinthine budgets and smiling through the poignant budget requests, but here we have the reason our Governor, one of, if not the best, in the pandemic battle, has the job of emergency action. And therefore, spending. Two key words (1) emergency and (2) action. You have ceded her the victory. She said OK, appropriate. And you temporized. And now we are back to full hospitals, a dozen deaths a day, and New Mexico has been dark red in the New York Times daily US pandemic map for over a month.

Jim Klukkert

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