NM Legislature Meets to Consider Gas Food Price Relief / Public News Service

In an effort to provide financial relief to New Mexicans struggling with rising gas and food prices, lawmakers are meeting today for a special session in Santa Fe.

The governor said she would like changes to a spending bill to protect New Mexicans’ paychecks and provide additional financial relief and security.

James Peach, professor emeritus of economics at New Mexico State University, said that despite the Federal Reserve raising interest rates last month to stave off a recession, he does not expect a quick turnaround.

“There’s not much to be optimistic about right now,” Peach said. “And given the supply chain and the war in Ukraine, there probably won’t be any relief for several months.”

New Mexico currently has a $1 billion budget surplus from revenue from the oil and gas industry, and the legislative session will likely result in refund checks. Advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children would like people at the bottom of the income scale to receive a little more money to help pay rent and run errands.

According to a recent CBS News report, the repercussions of COVID-19 and rising gas prices due to Russia’s war on Ukraine could cost Americans up to $3,000 this year.

Peach thinks the sacrifice Americans are making right now is pretty minimal.

“Paying $5 a gallon for gas, while you’re waiting at Starbucks for a $6 latte, doesn’t seem like a sacrifice to me,” Peach said.

In New Mexico, a gallon of gas costs more than $4, but Peach argued that only those who earn the least money really feel the pinch.

“Gasoline is a very small part of the average consumer’s budget,” Peach explained. “That’s not true if you’re at the bottom of the income scale and have to drive some distance to work. But cars these days are much more fuel efficient than they used to be.”

By the end of March, New Mexico’s unemployment rate was improving, but still the highest of any state in the country at 5.9%, according to the state’s Department of Workforce Solutions.

Disclosure: The New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness contributes to our Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault and Housing/Homelessness Reporting Fund. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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