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Tuesday, February 11, 2003

N.M. Revenue Jump Predicted

By David Miles
Journal Capitol Bureau
    SANTA FE The state expects to receive nearly $60 million in additional revenues over the next two fiscal years, legislators learned Monday.
    Since December, state financial officials have raised revenue projections for state government by $27.3 million for the current fiscal year and by $30.4 million for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
    The state anticipates having nearly $148 million in additional revenues available for increased spending or tax cuts in the next fiscal year.
    Sam Flaim, chief economist of the Department of Finance and Administration, attributed the brighter revenue outlook chiefly to higher oil and natural gas prices and taxes on those items.
    "The revenue outlook for New Mexico is significantly brighter than for many other states," Flaim told members of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
    New Mexico, Wyoming and Arkansas are the only states that are projecting balanced budgets for this fiscal year and the next one, according to a recent survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
    Gov. Bill Richardson said he wouldn't want to bank on the projected additional money to pay for the ongoing costs of programs like Medicaid because oil and natural gas prices are volatile.