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Looking Forward to Crumbling Roads

Governor Bill Richardson is being called to the table on his duplicitous stance regarding Rail Runner funding (subscription):

[Sen. Tim Jennings, D-Roswell] said he recalls lawmakers and Richardson administration officials talking about the plan [to raise taxes] in 2004.

“They pretty much said, ‘We’re going to have to do this,’ ” Jennings said in an interview Tuesday.

The Rail Runner now runs between Belen and Bernalillo at an operating cost of about $9.5 million a year. More than $8 million of that is paid by the federal government, but that funding disappears in 2009.

That will happen just as operating costs are projected to rise to $20 million a year with the extension of service to Santa Fe.

It also coincides with the time that Governor Richardson is hoping to abandon the state of New Mexico for the greener pastures of Washington D.C. The financial house of cards Governor Bill Richardson has built through his spend, spend, spend policy is about to come tumbling down, and as has long been predicted “New Mexico will be on the hook for several projects that will cost millions of dollars in coming years.

So, where does this leave us?

Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, chairman of the Legislative Finance Committee, said the state needs to find a funding source— and quickly.

New Mexico is struggling with a huge funding gap for its highway system, estimated by some at half a billion dollars. Critics of the Rail Runner project fear operating costs will eat into money better used on road construction and maintenance.

“The administration is saying it will find other sources,” Smith said. “Who’s going to be sacrificed? I’m submitting that it will be the state’s roads.”

Nice. Think about that during your morning commute.