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          Front Page


January 29, 2003



Governor Signs Bill To Increase His Budget



   
   
The Associated Press
    SANTA FE   —   There's money for payday at the Legislature. Gov. Bill Richardson signed a bill into law Wednesday to allocate $20 million to finance the 60-day legislative session and year-round operations of the Legislature.
    The law takes effect immediately, ensuring there will be money to pay legislative employees and lawmakers Friday.
    The "feed bill," as the spending measure is called, also provides $871,700 for budget increases in the offices of the governor and lieutenant governor during the last six months of the fiscal year.
    Richardson requested extra money to pay for 10 additional staff members in his office and to open a two-person state of New Mexico office in Washington, D.C.
    Richardson has proposed a 68 percent increase in the budget of the governor's office for the coming fiscal year.
    Republicans had objected to including money for the governor's office in the spending bill, which traditionally allocates money only for the Legislature.
    Richardson said he was pleased that lawmakers had approved his request.
    "I appreciate the Legislature passing it, as is, in a timely fashion. I think it shows a new era of cooperation," said Richardson.
    The budget measure provides:
      —   Nearly $6.9 million for the legislative session. That covers salaries of temporary House and Senate employees and operations of a telephone switchboard and bill distribution system. Legislators are not salaried, but they receive $145 a day during the session to reimburse them for expenses.
      —   Almost $11.7 million for year-round operations of the Legislature, including permanent budget and education committees; interim study committees; offices of the House and Senate clerks; and the Legislative Council Service, which handles research and bill-drafting duties.