State parks could see large cuts in funding

BY ERIC FINCHER<br />Staff writer

CIMARRON — Like many state agencies, New Mexico State Parks could see large reductions to its budget. One of the current proposals on the table during this legislative session is a $3 million reduction in the agencies operations budget. Such cuts could have a profound effect on state parks around the state. Marti Niman, public information officer for state parks, says nothing is known as of yet. “Nothing is known right now,” Niman said. “Everything is up in the air. There are probably many options on the table for all state agencies.” Niman added, nothing will be set in stone until this current legislative session is over. New Mexico State Parks is a division of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. Newly Elected New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and her administration are dealing with a nearly $400 million budget shortfall at the state level. Many state agencies are expecting to see deep cuts to their operations budgets. “I can’t say what will happen,” Niman said. “Anything I say at this time would be speculation.” Niman added, we’ll just have to wait and see. It is uncertain what cuts could mean for visitors and staff at state funded parks in the area. For the past few years the state has had to deal with budget shortfalls that have been in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration blames the budget shortages on a sluggish economy and less than projected state revenue. Gov. Martinez has said she would like to keep education in the state whole if at all possible but she is calling for possible cuts to school administration in the state. In a speech to legislators, Gov. Martinez said, unless we take decisive action to improve our schools, history will judge us harshly, and rightfully so. To reverse years of decline, we must place a command focus on student performance and progress, not just on how much money we’re spending. The governor has also said she is taking a close look at the heavily subsidized and increasingly less-used trains of the Rail Runner service between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

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