Infrastructure projects should be fully funded and follow oft-ignored legislative guidelines, the state auditor said Wednesday.
New Mexico’s capital outlay allocation system allows individual lawmakers to divvy up severance tax bond proceeds for specific projects they select. But often, those projects take years to fully fund and many aren’t ready to go when they’re funded.
This year, legislators divvied up $82 million for such projects. But a New Mexico In Depth analysis indicated more than 500 of those projects were underfunded by $245 million.
In addition to fully funding projects, Keller recommended:
- Requiring matching funds to be in place.
- Align state and local priorities.
- Follow need-based and planning criteria in legislative guidelines. Those criteria aren’t mandatory, so they’re often not followed.
- Do a better job of centrally monitoring projects and cut red tape so they’re funded more quickly.
- Require project progress audits.
- Include specific expiration dates for funding.
“Our capital outlay system is broken and it’s holding our state back. It’s time to embrace best practices that will allow us to make an efficient use of public dollars and move the needle to improve our communities,” Keller said in a news release.
The Legislature killed efforts to reform the capital outlay process in the recent 30-day legislative session.