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Mon March 1, 2010
Advocates react to special session
By Sarah Gustavus
Albuquerque, NM – Legislators adjourned for the regular session more than a week ago without agreeing on a plan for state spending in the upcoming fiscal year.
The Senate budget proposal called for greater cuts in government spending, while the House version included more revenue-raising - or tax increases.
Advocates will be watching carefully this week as lawmakers discuss the budget.
Terri Cole is President of the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. She says the chamber would like to see cuts in spending before tax increases are considered.
COLE: "We believe that the very best solution will come from both doing budget cuts, making government smaller, and also if there is a tax increase we have supported from the beginning reinstating the food tax."
Cole says the food tax would be a broad tax that would be shared by all New Mexicans.
But the proposal to reinstate the food tax has been heavily opposed by advocates who work with low income families. That includes Bill Jordan, policy director for New Mexico Voices for Children. He says the state has already deeply cut spending and it's time to look at other ways to pay for services for the state's most vulnerable people.
JORDAN: "We've had 700 million dollars in cuts already and a refusal to raise any revenue. Now it's time to make a more balanced approach to get us out of this crisis and be able to fulfill the promise we make to our kids that they have quality education and health care and they get off to a goods start in life."
Jordan says he hopes lawmakers look closely at proposals to re-evaluate some tax cuts and incentives when the meet at noon today for the special session.
KUNM will have an update from the capitol tonight during the 5:00 PM hour of All Things Considered.