Deborah Romero, key budget official, to retire after 48 years in state government - Albuquerque Journal

Deborah Romero, key budget official, to retire after 48 years in state government

In this 2021 photo, Finance and Administration Secretary Deborah Romero and other panelists address new revenue projections for the state of New Mexico in a meeting at Taos Ski Valley. (Eddie Moore/ Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — Another familiar face is set to depart Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration as Deborah Romero — a budget official with 48 years of experience in state government — plans to step down as secretary for finance and administration.

Romero, who has led the department for 2½ years, announced she will retire at the end of 2022 after having worked for nine gubernatorial administrations.

She began her career as a student intern. Finishing it as a Cabinet secretary, she said, is a “dream come true.”

The change in leadership of the department — a critical agency that handles the state budget and finances — comes as Lujan Grisham prepares to begin her second, four-year term Jan. 1.

Romero took over the Department of Finance and Administration in April 2020.

“There is no question that her decades of work on matters of state finance have left an indelible and undeniably positive mark,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement.

The governor has seen substantial Cabinet turnover since she took office nearly four years ago. Just nine of Lujan Grisham’s original Cabinet secretaries remain in their position, while 14 have changed hands at least once.

Veterans Services Secretary Sonya Smith stepped down earlier this month, and Indian Affairs Secretary Lynn Trujillo is set to leave at the end of the month.

Much of Romero’s career in state government focused on budgeting and capital outlay. She also served as director of boards and commissions under then-Govs. Bill Richardson and Toney Anaya.

“Public service is a family tradition which started with my parents and became a calling for me as well,” Romero said, “but it’s time to start the next season of my life with my husband and our family after 48 years of serving New Mexico.”

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