Crisis, What Crisis?

New Mexico may be facing a major budget crisis, but pet projects die hard. In December, the Rio Grande Foundation published our 2008 Piglet Book which discussed dozens of ways in which New Mexico policymakers might trim spending when facing a $600 million deficit.
Some of the projects mentioned in the Piglet Book have been debated. First, there was the $22.3 million equestrian facility for which half of the money was cut out to fund last year’s deficit. Now legislators are discussing whether to eliminate taxpayer funding for the $1.4 million recital facility the Santa Fe Opera plans to build. While cutting such frivolous spending would seem to be an easy decision and perhaps unconstitutional, Speaker Ben Lujan has defended the project saying it will “benefit the state.”
While New Mexico families — especially those recently laid off by Zangara Dodge and Eclipse Aviation — New Mexico legislators refuse to make even the most basic cuts in wasteful spending projects. Do we really have an economic crisis in this state or do some of our legislators simply not understand?