- Associated Press - Monday, January 23, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The Latest on efforts to fill the New Mexico state budget deficit (all times local):

8:00 p.m.

The New Mexico House of Representatives has approved a $260 million package of budget solvency bills designed to fix a deficit for the current fiscal year and shore up state general fund reserves.

The Democrat-led House on Monday approved a pair of bills that would reduce funding to most local school districts by 2 percent, transfer cash balances from various state accounts to the general fund and reduce some agency spending.

Republican House members voted along party lines against a bill including funding cuts to performance-based school programs and a closing fund to offset costs for business relocations and expansions.

The Senate has approved similar bills but still must sign off on the House amendments.

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5:20 p.m.

The New Mexico House of Representatives has approved funding cuts of 2 percent to most school districts across the state, while exempting districts with low cash reserves.

The House vote on Monday added new exemptions to legislation approved last week the by the Senate that would shore up the state general fund by targeting school district cash reserves. The House amendments still require Senate approval.

Lawmakers are working to close an $80 million deficit for the current fiscal year ending June 30 and restore depleted reserves before tackling next year’s budget plan.

The House-approved legislation would funnel $43 million to the state general fund by reducing program spending to public schools. Districts would have to offset the one-time cuts using cash reserves.

Exemptions were provided for schools that rely on emergency allocations or have reserves of less than 4 percent of annual program costs. Other schools would be allowed to maintain reserves of at least 4 percent.

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11:50 a.m.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says budget recommendations from the governor’s office and Legislature would result in reduced services and possibly layoffs at his agency.

Balderas said Monday that spending recommendations by the governor and Legislature for the fiscal year starting July 1 would make it difficult for the Attorney General’s Office to fulfill statutory obligations. He says it also would become more difficult to collect damages in court and pursue litigation linked to water rights, consumer protection issues, environmental violations and internet crimes.

Budget pressures are mounting at the agency because of shrinking balances in a consumer settlement fund.

New Mexico lawmakers are wrestling with efforts to close a general fund deficit for the current fiscal year amid a downturn in the oil sector and shrinking tax revenues.

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