It took an extra day or two longer than expected, but the special legislative session called to address the budget woes brought on by both the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the spring shock to energy prices reached agreement on a series of cuts, clawbacks, and “sanding” of agency budgets and appropriations to reduce the state budget by hundreds of millions of dollars. Other measures passed by the legislature included a small business aid package, and body camera requirements for police officers.
The small business aid package — sponsored by Senators Jacob Candelaria (D – Bernalillo), John Sapien (D – Bernalillo and Sandoval) and Sander Rue (R – Bernalillo) — seeks to make $500 million in low interest loans available to small businesses and local governments to help overcome the cash crunch brought on by the virus-induced economic shutdown and help small businesses restart. Supported by the Chamber, the bill was approved on a vote of 59-5 and sent to the Governor.
Overall, despite the reduction of the budget by roughly $600 million to a total of $7.0 billion, substantial work remains with the possibility that revenues for the coming fiscal year may drop below $6.0 billion. This would leave the new 55th legislature in January potentially responsible for making another $1 billion or more in cuts to state government.
The Chamber supported the budget reduction legislation, as well as the proposals to require all municipal, county, state and Department of Public Safety officers wear body cameras to improve transparency and protect both officers and citizens.