Like other legislators, Rep. William “Bill” Gray, R-Artesia, is busy preparing for the state’s 60-day 2013 legislative session, which begins next week.
“Sixty days in Santa Fe is a long time,” he said. However, he also said it may not be long enough to do all that the Legislature needs to.
One particular issue that warrants more time and attention, he said, is figuring out how to make retirement funds solvent for the years ahead.
When people retire, he said, they are supposed to be provided a certain amount of money; however, not enough money is coming in to take care of liabilities and obligations for both retirees and those who will retire.
“That’s going to take a lot of time, to study this,” he said. “With all the other bills, we have to give the proper attention it needs to solve this problem.”
Another issue is balancing the state budget and, as a member of the House of Representatives’ Appropriations and Finance committee, it will be his main priority.
The committee will hear requests for funding from several of the state’s departments to determine how much they should receive.
“When it’s all said it done, we have to balance the budget,” Gray said. “It’s the state law.”
It’s estimated that the state budget will be as much as $6 billion this year, he said. The state’s fiscal year starts July 1.
Gray is also a member of the House’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee and said he will continue to protect the state’s oil and gas industry.
Another concern Gray has is for the public education system. Nationally, he said the state ranks near the bottom and has a high dropout rate.
In an effort to reverse this, he will support a bill to provide more literacy education for children before kindergarten and through third grade.