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New Mexico lawmakers uneasy as dropping oil prices trim potential state revenues

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SANTA FE, New Mexico — Oil prices continue to drop and that's making New Mexico lawmakers a little uneasy as they prepare to hammer out a state budget for the next fiscal year.

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Democrat John Arthur Smith of Deming, joked during Thursday's floor session that his committee wouldn't meet until the price of oil starts to rise.

While prices remain low, legislative finance officials said they expect to release a new revenue forecast the first week of February.

The 60-day legislative session began Tuesday and the big assignment for lawmakers will be approving a nearly $6.3 billion spending plan.

How much new revenue they have to spend will depend largely on the state of the energy market and oil prices, which have dropped from over $100 a barrel last summer to less than $50.

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