As New Mexico representatives prepare to beg in the upcoming 60- day legislative session, local lawmakers say they are optimistic about tackling the stateâ€™s budget deficit.
Senate President Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, says that plugging the between $350 and $450 million budget shortfall will be a â€œtough road,â€ but added he is confident that necessary spending cuts wonâ€™t be impossible to deal with.
â€œI think weâ€™re in good shape, â€ Jennings said. â€œWeâ€™ll have to get there is all, but weâ€™ll do it.â€ Jennings, Roswellâ€™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.
â€œI would be very surprised if the legislative powers that be return this year with exactly the same at t i tude that theyâ€™ve always had,â€ said Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell , who has opposed previous attempts to fill the deficit by way of broad-based cuts to state agencies. â€œItâ€™s not just the election of the new governor with a new philosophy,â€ he said. â€œBut that i t â€™s pretty clear that the mood of the voters, nationally and in New Mexico, is such that the majority (party) canâ€™ t simply say weâ€™ll just keep doing things the way weâ€™ve always done.â€
Local House Republicans say they have plenty to be excited about after they added lawmakers to their caucus following the recent elections. â€œWe have tremendous opportunities to make some big changes and we need to grab hold of those opportunities and push (forward) , â€ said Rep. Dennis Kintigh, Roswell.
â€œThe biggest thing is the change in numbers.â€ 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. â€œOur current speaker of the House is very heavy handed and very malicious,â€ said Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell.
â€œThere are deep fractures in their caucus,â€ she said. â€œItâ€™s going to be real interesting.â€