By MORGAN LEE – Associated Press
Morgan Lee – staff, AP
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s Democratic governor is polling local politicians on their infrastructure priorities as the state decides how to dispense federal pandemic relief money and spend from a multibillion-dollar budget surplus.
Breaking with past routines, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has delayed annual infrastructure recommendations to hold an online summit Friday with mayors from across the state about their priorities on construction projects ranging from high-speed internet to senior centers, water systems and roadways. A separate event for county governments is scheduled in the following days.
Friday’s deliberations among politicians are a prelude to decisions on how to spend New Mexico’s share of a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure package signed by President Joe Biden in November. That legislation will send billions of dollars to states and localities across the country over the next decade. Remarks are scheduled at Friday’s summit from Democratic members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation, according to organizers at the New Mexico Municipal League.
The state still has $600 million in federal pandemic relief to assign from its $1.7 billion allotment last year, a major budget surplus and money that it borrows routinely to finance public works projects.
Martin Chavez, the former mayor of Albuquerque and appointed advisor to the governor on infrastructure, said public works projects can move to the front of the line for consideration if they already are well researched, planned or designed.
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