State bud­get cri­sis hits de­fen­dants, mu­se­ums, col­leges

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION -

SANTA FE | New Mex­ico’s grind­ing bud­get cri­sis is tak­ing a toll in court­rooms where over­bur­dened at­tor­neys have de­nied le­gal coun­sel to poor de­fen­dants, at mu­se­ums reel­ing from lay­offs and ad­mis­sion hikes and at state uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges grap­pling with steep spend­ing cuts.

A pro­longed down­turn in oil and nat­u­ral gas mar­kets is squeez­ing bud­gets in sev­eral states that rely heav­ily on sev­er­ance taxes and roy­al­ties.

Most New Mex­ico state agen­cies al­ready are deal­ing with spend­ing cuts of 5.5 per­cent. Now they’re brac­ing for more belt tight­en­ing as state econ­o­mists pre­pare to re­lease re­duced rev­enue es­ti­mates for the cur­rent and com­ing fis­cal year.

The fore­cast is due Mon­day and sets the bench­mark when leg­is­la­tors meet in Jan­uary to write a state bud­get for the com­ing fis­cal year and to fix cur­rent short­falls.

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