New Mexico’s economy and the end of the 2016 Legislative session

The New Mexico Legislature has adjourned for 2016. There were several major disappointments including lack of action on “right to work,” “Prevailing wage reform,” and school choice, (to name just a few).

But it is too easy to focus on the negatives because a few economically-helpful bills got through this session. These include (finally) legislation to reduce worker’s compensation benefits for workers who show up drunk or stoned on the job. This year’s bill was sponsored by Sen. Jacob Candelaria, but past efforts were sponsored by Rep. Dennis Roch. No matter what, this is a long-overdue reform and we are glad it finally passed.

Another positive from this session is that New Mexico’s Legislature has brought ride-sharing companies like Lyft and Uber under a reasonable system of rules and regulations. They will now be able to operate legally in New Mexico without threats from the Public Regulation Commission that they are operating illegally. Ride-sharing can improve transportation and mobility throughout our state while also reducing our State’s serious DUI problem. Kudos to Rep. Monica Youngblood who sponsored the ride-sharing bill.

Finally, being that this was a 30-day “budget” session, the Legislature passed a budget. The fast-changing (declining) revenue picture calls the viability of this budget into question, especially considering media reports indicating a 12% decline in general fund revenues. In other words, unless the price of oil rebounds dramatically later this year, we expect the Legislature to be called back for a special session to make further cuts later on in the year.

This will especially painful given that 2016 is an election year, so legislators of both parties are keeping their fingers crossed for higher oil and gas prices. We expect them to be disappointed.