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Monday, August 24, 2009

New Mexico Groups Call for Open Budget Negotiations, Regional Public Meetings

In a letter (doc) to the Governor and Legislators, groups from across the political spectrum today called on the state's leaders to open up current meetings on the state budget shortfall. Groups representing faith, small business, unions and advocates requested that the "legislative-executive working group" openly negotiate a solution to address the $433 million budgetary shortfall for the current fiscal year.

Governor Richardson announced last week that he will call a one-day Special Session in October and form a "legislative-executive working group" made up of legislative leaders and executive branch representatives. The working group is meeting regularly to identify means to close the gap in New Mexico's FY 2010 budget.

"The outcome of these conversations will directly impact the entire state. All New Mexicans should have the opportunity to provide input," said Ruth Hoffman, Executive Director of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry, in a statement released by the groups.

Call for Minimum of Three Regional Public Hearings
Earlier this year the Legislature passed a bill that opens conference committees to the public. Advocacy groups believe these budget negotiations should follow in the spirit of that law and be open to all New Mexicans. Statewide organizations are requesting the legislative-executive working group host at least three regional public hearings -- one each in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Las Cruces -- where members of the public could be allowed to comment.

"We recognize this is an urgent matter and applaud the Governor and Legislature for taking swift action to address this fiscal challenge," said Gerry Bradley, New Mexico Voices for Children's Research Director. "However, we also believe that the people of New Mexico have valid concerns and good ideas on how to reach a solution to the current budget crisis. It is only responsible to take these ideas and concerns into consideration when making these important policy decisions."

The letter called for sufficient public and media notice of all working group meetings and for the meetings to be held in venues other than the state Capitol that will accommodate public attendance and participation.

Groups that signed the letter:

  • American Federation of Federal, State, County, and Municipal Employees – New Mexico
  • American Federation of Teachers – New Mexico
  • Center for Civic Policy
  • Community Action New Mexico
  • Communications Workers of America, Local 7076
  • Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund
  • Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – New Mexico
  • New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty
  • New Mexico Progressive Action, Board of Governors
  • New Mexico Voices for Children
  • Southwest Organizing Project

August 24, 2009 at 09:39 PM in Business, Children and Families, Economy, Populism, Education, Environment, Events, Labor, NM Legislature Special Session 2009, Poverty | Permalink