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Lawmakers Asked To Raise Taxes To Fix NM Budget

BARRY MASSEY

ANGEL FIRE, N.M. (AP) ¿ Social services advocates and a labor union representing government workers are urging New Mexico legislators to consider raising taxes to help solve a looming state budget deficit.

Bill Jordan, policy director of New Mexico Voices for Children, told the Legislative Finance Committee on Thursday that lawmakers should not rely exclusively on spending cuts to fix budget problems. That will hurt public education and services for the needy who are struggling during the recession, he said.

Jordan's comments came a day before lawmakers receive a new financial forecast expected to show that revenues will be more than $400 million below what had been anticipated in the current fiscal year.

Legislators will meet in a special session this fall, probably in October, to balance the budget. Among the options for lawmakers are spending cuts, tax increases and scrapping previously approved capital improvement projects.

Several committee members said it's unlikely that tax increases will be considered during the special session. However, they said lawmakers could be forced to look at raising revenues in the future because New Mexico's budget problems likely will continue into the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years unless the economy rebounds dramatically. The current 2010 budget year started in July.

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