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Breaking: Senate votes unanimously to approve $5.9 billion budget

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One of the biggest bills of the 60-day legislative session was approved by the Senate today, with senators voting 42-0 in favor of a $5.9 billion spending plan for the upcoming year.

The budget would raise state spending by $246 million, or 4.4 percent, from this year’s levels. It would mark the second straight year state spending would rise after three consecutive years of budget cuts.

In addition, the budget includes a 1 percent salary increase for state employees, including teachers. Certain law enforcement officers would receive a larger pay hike of 4 percent.

Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said during today’s Senate floor debate the budget bill would position the state well for possible federal budget cuts.

“We’re going to hope for the best, but we’ve prepared for the worst,” Smith said.

Legislators are constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget every year. Since this year’s budget was amended in the Senate after being approved by the House, it must go back to the House for concurrence before moving on to Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk for final approval.

Check tomorrow’s Journal for more.

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