- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico lawmakers want to take a closer look at the cost to taxpayers when changes are made to criminal penalties.

The Senate voted 35-4 on Tuesday to require a fiscal impact report on changes to criminal sentences and how they affect incarceration costs. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.

When increased costs are anticipated, lawmakers would have to set aside money for the first year from New Mexico’s general fund. The New Mexico Sentencing Commission would review fiscal impacts.

The Democratically controlled Legislature is wrestling with a $125 million budget gap for the coming fiscal year. A downturn in the oil sector and a sluggish state economy have sapped state tax revenues.

The Legislature already added a finance committee review of bills with new felony penalties.

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