ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials estimate that revenue levels for the state of New Mexico will come in roughly $250 million higher than expected for the just-completed fiscal year.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that the stronger-than-expected revenues mean the state likely will end up taking in nearly $5.8 billion for the fiscal year that ended June 30. That's an increase of roughly 7 percent — or about $380 million — over the previous year.
About $200 million of the $250 million stems from oil and natural gas taxes and royalties, which tend to fluctuate from year to year.
Democratic Rep. Luciano "Lucky" Varela of Santa Fe, vice chairman of the Legislative Finance Committee, said some of the unexpected money could be used during the 2013 legislative session to fill shortfalls in state agency budgets.
"It's a good thing that we do have some extra dollars so we can consider some of those deficiencies and supplementals," Varela said.
He also warned that the state could face federal budget cuts and may have to spend more money in order to expand its Medicaid program.
In addition, rank-and-file state employees have not received a pay increase in three years, and Varela said he is concerned not enough public employees have been hired under Gov. Susana Martinez's administration.
For now, the additional revenue will be used to bolster the state's reserves, which are on track to end the fiscal year at about $750 million, or more than 13 percent of recurring state spending.
That money, which was previously expected to total about $500 million, can be used as a buffer in case of unanticipated expenses or future revenue fluctuations.
However, even with more dollars than expected flowing into the state's coffers during the just-completed fiscal year, New Mexico's incoming revenue still has not returned to pre-recession levels.
New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.