Tough road ahead with deficit

January 16, 2011 • Local News

As New Mexico representatives prepare to beg[auth] in the upcoming 60- day legislative session, local lawmakers say they are optimistic about tackling the state’s budget deficit.

Senate President Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, says that plugging the between $350 and $450 million budget shortfall will be a “tough road,” but added he is confident that necessary spending cuts won’t be impossible to deal with.

“I think we’re in good shape, ” Jennings said. “We’ll have to get there is all, but we’ll do it.” Jennings, Roswell’s only Democrat representative in the Legislature, also said he is looking forward to serving with the new governor, who other local lawmakers say will bring some noticeable changes to the Roundhouse.

“I would be very surprised if the legislative powers that be return this year with exactly the same at t i tude that they’ve always had,” said Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell , who has opposed previous attempts to fill the deficit by way of broad-based cuts to state agencies. “It’s not just the election of the new governor with a new philosophy,” he said. “But that i t ’s pretty clear that the mood of the voters, nationally and in New Mexico, is such that the majority (party) can’ t simply say we’ll just keep doing things the way we’ve always done.”

Local House Republicans say they have plenty to be excited about after they added lawmakers to their caucus following the recent elections. “We have tremendous opportunities to make some big changes and we need to grab hold of those opportunities and push (forward) , ” said Rep. Dennis Kintigh, Roswell.

“The biggest thing is the change in numbers.” At least one other House member agreed with Kintigh, while also pointing to the fact that Speaker Ben Lujan, Santa Fe, may be in jeopardy of losing his leadership position. “Our current speaker of the House is very heavy handed and very malicious,” said Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell.

“There are deep fractures in their caucus,” she said. “It’s going to be real interesting.”

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