The Latest: New Mexico's Legislature has convened
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- The Latest on the start of the New Mexico legislative session (all times local):
The New Mexico state Legislature has convened for a 60-day session with Democrats back in control of both chambers.
The nation's only unsalaried Legislature gathered Tuesday in Santa Fe to consider a wide range of policy initiatives and address a state budget crisis brought on by a downturn in the energy sector.
Democrats won back majority control of the House of Representatives in November elections, and further consolidated their hold on the Senate. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is vowing to oppose any tax increases as the lawmakers grapple with a budget shortfall and depleted state reserves.
The state's dire financial picture is likely to color policy discussions by lawmakers about crime and punishment, marijuana laws, educational reforms and economic development incentives. Many Democratic lawmakers want to increase distributions from the state's $15 billion permanent to spend on early education.
Filling a budget hole and finding enough money to maintain state government services next year are top priorities as New Mexico lawmakers convene for a 60-day legislative session.
Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is scheduled to outline budget and policy priorities in a State of the State address on Tuesday. She says state government should be able to resolve a budget deficit and restore depleted reserves without raising taxes.
Plunging state revenues and economic difficulties are linked to a downturn in the oil and natural gas sectors.
Democrats who took back majority control of the Legislature in November elections have given a cold reception to the governor's proposals to sweep money from local school district reserves and reduce take-home pay to teachers and state workers through increased pension contributions.