SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — About $285 million should be available in the next budget year for spending increases on state government programs, public education and to offset potential tax cuts, according to a new revenue forecast released Monday.
If the Legislature and governor agree to put all $285 million into programs and services, that would allow a 4.6 percent increase in spending in the 2016 fiscal year, which begins next July and runs through June 2016.
Top officials in Gov. Susana Martinez's administration outlined the revenue projections to the Legislative Finance Committee during a meeting in Las Vegas.
The latest financial forecast will shape the debate over spending in next year's state budget. The committee and the administration will use the figures in the next few months to develop their budget recommendations for the Legislature, which convenes in January for a 60-day session.
Economic growth — particularly from strong oil production — is expected to boost total revenue collections next year to about $6.4 billion. That's $285 million more than the state plans to spend this year and that amount — viewed as "new money" by legislators — is what's available for budget increases next year.
The revenue outlook for next year is about the same as when lawmakers developed this year's budget, which provides for a 4.6 percent spending increase.
Lawmakers were cautioned that volatility in oil and natural gas prices poses a "downside risk" to the state's revenue forecast. A $1 change in oil prices causes a $6 million change in revenue for the state's main budget account, according to Finance and Administration Secretary Tom Clifford.
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