New Mexico’s Real Budget Numbers

We don’t yet know the date, but a special session will soon be called to tackle New Mexico’s budget woes. The fiscal year that ended June 30 fell into the red, and the current fiscal year is facing a deficit of hundreds of millions of dollars.

One stat that’s sure to be heard again and again during the special session was recently cited by the Albuquerque Journal — “the state’s $6.2 billion budget.”

Technically, that amount is correct. But it describes just one portion of New Mexico’s total expenditures, namely, the General Fund. Described by the Legislative Finance Committee as “the primary state fund from which the ongoing expenses of state government are paid,” the General Fund derives its revenue from the GRT, income tax, energy levies, investments, and miscellaneous sources, such as tribal casinos, license fees, and “reversions of unspent funds from state agencies.”

To see how much loot the General Fund fails to include, consider another amount: $19.1 billion. That’s the all-in figure for 2015’s state expenditures, which include transportation, subsidies from Washington, and quasi-public entities.

Here’s a look at the last dozen years of total spending, courtesy the state’s comprehensive annual financial reports:


Expenditures in the 12-year period rose by an inflation-adjusted 46.5 percent. In contrast, population growth was just 9.8 percent.

The bottom line? New Mexico spends far, far more when every dollar is accounted for — not just the bucks that fall within the General Fund. Something to remember, when politicians and activists wail about “cuts” to “essential public services.”