Yesterday, Senate Bill 543 (SB 543), which requires the State Treasurer’s Office and the Department of Finance (DFA) to balance the state budget, unanimously passed the Senate floor. Bill sponsor Senator George Munoz (D-4- Cibola, McKinley & San Juan) said he was not surprised to see this bipartisan bill pass the Senate.
“We have a real serious problem: between $100 million to $175 million dollars have been unaccounted. It’s mind-boggling to me that we are the only state in the country that does not balance our state’s finances,” said Sen. Munoz. “We need to stop playing games and start being responsible with taxpayers’ money.”
SB 543 requires that accounts be reconciled monthly and that there be quarterly reports by the State Treasurer’s Office and DFA to the Governor and the Legislature detailing the state’s accounts.
“We as Legislators, and more specifically those of us who serve on the Legislative Finance Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, have a vital fiduciary responsibility to know exactly what shape our state’s finances are in before we can prudently approve budgets for each upcoming fiscal year. How can we appropriate if we don’t even know the balance on the checkbook?” Sen. Munoz asked. “This measure is long overdue and I have faith that the bill will pass the House. This is an issue that affects all New Mexico taxpayers.”
According to SB 543, the quarterly report prepared must include details of each agency’s budget, note of cash reconciling items that have not been cleared, the number of errors during the quarter, documentation of state reserve accounts, and a comparison of the state budget to the latest economic forecast. Should the bill pass the Legislature, it would be enacted July 1, 2015.