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The Latest: Legislature would spend more on public schools

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The Latest on New Mexico state budget recommendations (all times local):

1:00 p.m.

Leading New Mexico lawmakers are proposing a nearly 3 percent increase in state general fund spending that would go mainly to public school education, Medicaid health care, early childhood programs, courts and state police.

The Legislative Finance Committee on Friday announced a proposal to increase general fund spending by $178 million for the coming fiscal year to nearly $6.3 billion.

The plan from the lead budget-writing committee in the Democrat-led Legislature would devote an additional $51 million to public schools, which rely on state funding for a majority of spending.

The proposed increase includes new money for salaries of all full-time teachers and for a program that extends the school year for some young students. Childcare and prekindergarten programs also would get a major financial boost.

The state would devote an additional $35 million to Medicaid health care for the poor and disabled, a multibillion-dollar program supported mostly by the federal government. An average pay increase of 1.5 percent is proposed for state employees.

11:20 a.m.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is recommending a $250 million increase in state general fund spending for the coming fiscal year.

Officials with the Republican administration outlined spending and taxation proposals Friday that emphasize investments in the criminal justice system, economic development incentives and early childhood care and education. The Democrat-led Legislature convenes Jan. 16 to craft a state budget for the fiscal year starting in July.

The governor's proposal would boost assistance for child care services by $25 million and increase pay for state police, public prosecutors, court staff, corrections officers, parole officers, public school teachers and other state workers.

It calls for tax law changes designed to collect an additional $99 million, much of it through the nonprofit health care sector. The governor is seeking a 1 percent pay raise for all state employees.

3:00 a.m.

New Mexico's Democrat-led Legislature and Republican Gov. Susana Martinez are preparing to announce spending priorities for state government and public schools.

The Legislature's lead budget-writing committee scheduled publication Friday of its spending proposal for the coming fiscal year that begins on July 1.

Surging state tax revenues and a rebound in the oil and natural gas sectors are propelling a rapid turnaround in New Mexico government finances after two years of austere budgets.

State government income for the fiscal year starting on July 1, 2018, is expected to surpass current annual spending by nearly $200 million. Much of the state's fiscal rebound comes from personal income taxes.

Last year, New Mexico plugged a budget hole with money from severance bonds amid a hiring freeze and agency spending cuts.

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