One of the most powerful and well-respected leaders in the New Mexico Senate will appear on News New Mexico this morning. John Arthur Smith of Deming, who serves as Vice Chairman of the Legislative Finance Committee talked with Michael, Janice, and Rachel. You can hear the entire interview HERE. The mission of the Legislative Finance Committee is to provide the Legislature with objective fiscal and public policy analyses, recommendations and oversight of state agencies to improve performance and ensure accountability through the effective allocation of resources for the benefit of all New Mexicans. The Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) was first established as a fiscal and management arm of the New Mexico Legislature in 1957. Since its inception, the committee's role in the state budget process has grown as the complexity and size of the budget has increased. In 1991, the LFC assumed responsibility for the performance audit program, previously a part of the Office of the State Auditor.
Luciano "Lucky Varela"
The committee makes budgetary recommendations to the Legislature for funding state government, higher education and public schools. The committee also prepares legislation addressing financial and management issues of state government. The program evaluation unit, formerly the performance audit unit, reviews the costs, efficiency and effectiveness of activities of state agencies and political subdivisions and recommends changes to the Legislature. The current Chairman of the LFC is Representative Luciano "Lucky" Varela of Santa Fe.
New Mexico is rare in that both the governor and a legislative agency (LFC) propose comprehensive state budgets to the Legislature. The New Mexico budget currently amounts to about $6 billion in general fund appropriations and about $14.7 billion in total funds. Four areas account for seventy-eight percent of the general fund budget: 43 percent for public schools, 15 percent for higher education, 13 percent for Medicaid and 7 percent for public safety.