What is New Mexico’s “real” budget picture?

The Albuquerque Journal had an interesting article over the weekend about the “stagnant” New Mexico budget. The article is worth reading and the “money” chart is displayed below:

We at the Rio Grande Foundation have talked non-stop about the challenges facing New Mexico’s economy and, more-importantly, what to do about them for a very long time.

All that being said, it is worth noting that the chart above really doesn’t account for New Mexico’s entire budget. In fact, it accounts for less than half. A more accurate picture is provided by the US Census Bureau page on “State Government Finances.”

There, once you include “All Government Expenditures” for New Mexico, you find that the State spent an astonishing $20 billion in the latest year available (2015). These are federal “pass-through” dollars for Medicaid (not Social Security though) and other programs jointly-administered by the State and Federal governments. There are also significant dollars generated by the oil and gas industries which are not factored into the General Fund data above (and so often referenced in the media).

The chart below shows the influx of federal Medicaid expansion dollars, but prior to the year 2012 there was also an influx of “stimulus” money from Washington. The points are twofold: 1) the real budget is much bigger than just the General Fund and 2) New Mexico’s budget is on a growth trajectory driven by federal dollars.


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