- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Gov. Susana Martinez and top House and Senate leaders announced late Wednesday that they have reached an agreement on a $295 million public works package and other legislation, and a special session is imminent.

Martinez is expected to issue the call for lawmakers to return to Santa Fe in the coming days. The session will likely begin Monday.

The announcement comes after months of political posturing and repeated requests from business groups and mayors from around the state who wanted lawmakers to forge a compromise on a bill that funds roads, parks and other public projects.

The governor’s office said the agreement will increase funding for senior centers and higher education institutions around the state.

The deal also calls for highway projects to be financed through a combination of state general funds and severance tax bonds.

Lawmakers also agreed to tax incentives, including a measure to restore a medical expense tax deduction that’s claimed by hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans each year.

Lawmakers failed to agree on the capital outlay projects during the regular session that ended in March. The Senate had passed one version of the bill, but the Republican-controlled House amended it and shifted millions of dollars from some projects to roads.

In the months following the regular 60-day session, Senate Democrats said they were ready to return to work. But Martinez refused to call a special session, saying without a compromise it would cost taxpayers $50,000 a day for lawmakers to haggle over capital outlay.

Martinez said the bipartisan agreement that has been brokered will help create jobs.

“We are prioritizing highway construction and other major infrastructure, which puts people to work immediately and lays a strong foundation for long-term economic growth,” she said.

The other tax incentives will encourage businesses to relocate or expand in New Mexico, she said.

Sen. John Arthur Smith, a Deming Democrat who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said the agreement is a compromise that will address needs throughout the state. Lawmakers from both parties said in statements that politics have been put aside.

The legislation to be considered during the special session includes short-term funding for the state’s court system and Health Department to address shortfalls, matching funds for tribal water settlement projects, and money for a state fund that’s used to woo businesses and spur job creation.

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