The Santa Fe New Mexican recently published an article in which House Republicans were asked about New Mexico’s fiscal health as the 2020 legislative budget session began (“GOP lawmakers caution against overspending as reserves hit high,” Jan. 26). Our members made clear our intention to draft an alternative budget proposal to set a more sustainable and responsible spending plan for New Mexico.
Democratic leadership’s current budget is based on the absurd expectation that recent surges in oil and gas revenues will continue for the foreseeable future and ignores the inevitable oil and gas downturn that will result in significant budget cuts in priority programs, such as education.
The article willfully dismissed these concerns. It is unfortunate that The New Mexican did not reach out to ask the House Republican caucus to respond to this spin messaging from the progressive leadership, including the governor’s statement.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham supports increasing spending by $2.7 billion, and her proposals require spending the entirety of our state’s surplus oil and gas revenues along with raiding state reserve funds to finance her ever-growing expansion of government. The self-congratulatory mantra of our progressive colleagues of “saving” New Mexico money is a false statement. The facts are clear: We have not seen spending increases like these since the Richardson administration, which led to a near collapse of government operations. As recent as three years ago, Democrats in the Legislature led the charge and took money from every elementary school, middle school and high school in New Mexico to fund its obligations.
Oil and gas revenues are already showing signs of fading. Increasing government spending by 20 percent in two years shows how reckless this progressive agenda is to the stability of New Mexico. Decades of Democrat control developed this economic imbalance in New Mexico.
Despite the progressive chants to kill the industry supporting our state finances at nearly 45 percent, it doesn’t appear that they have found a way to replace the revenue the industry brings in, except to increase taxes and make New Mexico even less competitive.
We must develop sustainable spending plans that New Mexicans can count on to be there into the future.
Jim Townsend is the Republican House minority leader from Artesia. Rod Montoya is the Republican House minority whip from Farmington. Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, contributed to this commentary.