Senator John Arthur Smith and Zia Chapter member Rhonda Faught
At its bi‐monthly dinner meeting on January 14, 2016 Zia Chapter Members and six guests enjoyed an evening with New Mexico Senate Finance Committee Chair John Arthur Smith. Senator Smith talked about the challenges to forecasting and funding New Mexico’s annual budget, which is heavily reliant (1/3) on an unpredictable revenue stream: oil and gas. Every $1.00 change in barrel price corresponds to a $10M change in the state’s budget revenues. He also addressed pros and cons to other sources of state revenue, such as sales tax on food, increasing the gasoline and property taxes. And Senator Smith discussed nuances of the budget process not always understood including the state’s relatively small population, the percentage living in poverty who receive Medicaid benefits, and the fact that only 1/3 of the land is patented. Senator Smith graciously answered questions and shared stories about his time in office, how he became Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and life in the southwestern border town of Deming. It was a rewarding evening.