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Saturday, March 22, 2003

Lawmakers OK Fund for Museum Repairs

By Susan Montoya Bryan
The Associated Press
    SANTA FE The Legislature gave final approval Friday to a measure that will provide a permanent source of financing for renovation and maintenance of state museums.
    The proposal goes to Gov. Bill Richardson, who will have until April 11 to decide whether to sign it and other bills passed during the final days of the legislative session.
    Supporters of the measure said the state's museums are in disrepair because of a lack of money.
    The bill requires a share of the governmental gross receipts to be earmarked to the Office of Cultural Affairs for museum and state monument projects.
    The measure won final approval when the House agreed to a Senate-added provision that will require a review of proposed museum projects by the Capitol Buildings Planning Commission.
    Rep. Max Coll, D-Santa, chairman of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, said the change added another step to the funding process, but he urged lawmakers to accept it.
    "It will be another hurdle to get over, but the money is so important," he said.
    Currently, a portion of governmental gross receipts goes to the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department to pledge for repayment of bonds to maintain state parks.
    The legislation would shift 2.5 percent of the department's share of tax proceeds an estimated $550,000 next year to the Office of Cultural Affairs.
    The office would use the money to back the repayment of loans from the New Mexico Finance Authority.
    The tax is imposed on governmental services and transactions, such as tickets to university athletic events as well as municipal sewer and garbage collection services.