New Mexico 2019 Legislative Session Recap: Capital Outlay

April 10, 2019

In addition to a historic budget surplus that legislators used to increase spending on education and other areas, the money available for capital outlay projects far exceeded recent years.

Capital outlay is the process by which legislators appropriate money to infrastructure projects throughout the state. Each lawmaker receives a specific amount of money during the legislative session and decides how they want to appropriate it. Capital outlay funds went to every county in the state, and you can find out how much was allocated in your county here.

Lawmakers had a total of $933 million for capital outlay this year, “the largest infrastructure spending package of its kind in years” according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. For comparison, capital outlay money totaled only $364.5 million last year. The massive increase was largely due to revenue from increased oil and gas production.

While capital outlay is traditionally funded through bonds sales, this year there was so much money available that the state will pay in cash.

The new money provided funding for projects across New Mexico that legislators, tribal leaders, and local officials alike say will help build up our infrastructure and lay the groundwork for continued economic diversification and opportunity in their communities.

Doña Ana County

Doña Ana County and the City of Las Cruces received twice as much this year as they had in any of the last seven. In all, $69 million was allocated to projects in the county.

Senate President Pro Tempore Mary Kay Papen and House Majority Whip Doreen Gallegos wrote:

The unprecedented revenue surplus in our budget has given us the opportunity to invest in many critical projects throughout southern New Mexico — and these projects will boost the quality of life in our community… This year, we — along with other Doña Ana County legislators — invested approximately $30 million in community projects, including investments to make our roads safer and grow the economy…These investments will help our community reach its full potential and drive economic opportunity.

The projects included an expansion of the Santa Teresa Jetport, which could be leveraged by companies that have recently begun operations in the area that is also growing as a hub of international trade.

Other projects to receive funding include a downtown Las Cruces parking garage, rehabilitation of the Las Cruces International Airport, flood control, and wastewater treatment improvements.

“Christmas came very early this year for the city and county,” according to the Las Cruces Sun-News.

Four Corners Area

Governments in the northwest part of the state also received millions to improve roads and other infrastructure – and $1 million to help build a “state-of-the-art new film studio” that officials say could boost the local economy.

San Juan County Manager Mike Stark said, “First and foremost, it’s economic development. We’re really focused on us having a facility that makes us more attractive to film projects.”

The Navajo Nation received more than $28.7 million, which Vice President Myron Lizer said was one of the largest capital outlay infusions the Nation has ever received. The total includes $3.1 million for public safety and school security improvements, $2 million for a renewable energy project, and $1.2 million for agriculture centers at Diné College which could help continue the industry’s growth in our state.

Bernalillo County/Albuquerque

The City of Albuquerque and surrounding area had the most capital outlay funds allocated to it at $223.7 million.

Much of the money going into Albuquerque will fund public safety improvements, such as DNA testing kits for rape victims, emergency response radio equipment, and new vehicles for the Albuquerque Fire and Rescue Department. Senator Jacob Candelaria said the capital outlay will help ensure “safe and vibrant communities” in the city.

Infrastructure and community projects were also funded, with $7.5 million for traffic mitigation efforts around Balloon Fiesta Park, $7.5 million for the Railyards development, $1.9 million for the International District Library, and $2 million allocated to 14 different little league projects.

The $60 million Albuquerque received is “a 40-50 percent increase from what we’ve historically gotten,” Mayor Tim Keller said. “We feel this [year] was a major reset when it comes to how the state prioritizes all areas – and, in this case, a city that is in need and asking for help. This year, we got it. It’s awesome.”

Santa Fe

Legislators earmarked $87.9 million for projects in Santa Fe County. This included $30 million to build a new Department of Public Safety crime lab to help meet the rising demand for forensic evidence testing.

It also funded an upgrade of the Santa Fe Regional Airport’s passenger terminal that could attract more direct flights and further boost tourism in the area.