New Mexico Wild: House Budget Makes Positive Gains, But More Needs to be Done to Close Funding Gap for Environmental Agencies

Today New Mexico Wild released the following statement on legislative budget recommendations in the HB2 Substitute for the General Appropriation Act of 2021, which included minimal increases for agencies like the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD).

“We appreciate the careful consideration that Chairwoman Lundstrom and House Appropriations & Finance Committee members have given to the NMED and EMNRD budgets, and for acknowledging the wide gap that exists between the LFC and executive budget recommendations,” said Mark Allison, Executive Director of New Mexico Wild. “However, these recommendations do not go far enough to give these agencies the resources they need to protect and support New Mexico businesses and communities.”

“We call on members of the Senate Finance Committee to step up and find an additional $4,500,000 to fully fund these agencies,” Allison continued. “New Mexicans expect and deserve a government that protects them from the harmful effects of the oil and gas industry, carries out proactive initiatives to combat climate change, supports our growing outdoor recreation economy and helps businesses reopen and recover from COVID19. None of this can be done without proper funding.”

The HB2 Substitute for the General Appropriation Act of 2021 calls for a slight increase of $1 million to NMED’s general fund budget, or $14,146,200 total. If adopted, this would maintain a -19.76% cut compared to the agency’s budget in FY2011, when adjusted for inflation. The HB2 recommendation would also be $2,695,800 less than the governor’s original recommendation of $16,842,000, or -16.01% less.

The bill also recommends a slight increase of $650,000 to EMNRD’s general budget, for a total of $23,468,900. If adopted, this would maintain a -13.85% deficit compared to the agency’s budget in FY2011, when adjusted for inflation. The recommendation would also be $1,805,100 less than the governor’s recommendation of $25,274,000, or -7.14% less.

The difference between the House budget recommendations and the governor’s executive budget recommendations for NMED and EMNRD combined is $4,500,900.

Due to recent revenue projections, legislators have more than $330 million in new revenue to allocate for the FY2022 budget cycle.

“After ten years of budget cuts that completely dismantled these agencies, legislators now have a real opportunity to put New Mexico on a safer and smarter path when it comes to our environment,” said Brittany Fallon, Policy Director. “We appreciate the support that legislators have shown on this issue and look forward to working with them to close the gaps for these agencies as the session continues.”

For additional background on the historical funding levels for these agency budgets, see New Mexico Wild’s report showing that the original Legislative Finance Committee (LFC)’s recommendations would maintain double-digit, 15-30% cuts made during the previous 10 years, as well as high vacancy rates that persist at many of these agencies.

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