SANTA FE, N.M. — The Latest on a special legislative session in New Mexico (all times local):
The New Mexico Legislature has approved its first deficit-reduction bill during a special session aim at closing a major budget shortfall.
The New Mexico House of Representative voted 61-1 on Saturday to shore up the state’s general fund by reducing contributions to a health care fund for retired state employees. The legislation cleared the Senate on Friday and still needs the governor’s signature to become law.
The measure also would halt funding increases to a fire protection fund that supports local fire districts. New Mexico state finances are reeling from a downturn in the oil and natural gas sectors.
The New Mexico House of Representatives has approved mandatory life sentencing for people convicted of intentional child abuse resulting in death, regardless of a child’s age.
The bill was approved Saturday and would expand “Brianna’s Law” to cover the deaths of children up to 17 years of age. It has not yet been considered by the Senate. The current law addresses deaths of children 11 and under.
The existing statute is named after a 5-month-old who died in 2002 after being sexually assaulted and suffering skull fractures and other injuries. Changes to the law are among a trio of criminal justice bills backed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
The New Mexico House of Representatives is working alone on state budget remedies and criminal justice reforms after the Senate adjourned.
The Democrat-controlled Senate adjourned in the early morning hours Saturday after approving a slate of deficit reducing measures that would cut state agency spending this year of $175 million, or nearly 3 percent. Other Senate-backed remedies for closing a budget shortfall would sweep $77 million in cash from idle state agency accounts.
The Senate must return to work no later than Thursday. The House has focused its attention on stricter mandatory criminal sentencing laws and a bill to reinstate the death penalty.
The New Mexico Senate has approved a slate of deficit cutting measures as a special legislative session moves into its second day.
The Legislature was meeting Saturday in efforts to address a major budget shortfall and consider criminal justice reforms backed by Gov. Susana Martinez that include a bill to reinstate the death penalty.
The Democrat-led Senate on Friday approved proposals to make up for a shortfall in state revenues by tapping a tobacco settlement fund, delaying corporate income tax decreases and limiting a tax credit for the creation of high-wage jobs.
New Mexico finished the budget year in June with a $131 million deficit after exhausting operating reserves, and has a projected budget shortfall for current year of $458 million.