Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Public Regulation Commission tells legislative committee it needs bigger budget | Local News

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission needs a bigger budget if it hopes to serve as a model agency for overseeing utilities, the commission’s chief of staff said Wednesday.

Wayne Propst, who became the commissioner’s chief executive that year, said his agency’s operating budget will need to be increased by approximately $ 1.5 million over the next fiscal year to hire and retain the technical staff who do excellent work is required. He said he had 10 to 12 positions open this year to help cover operating costs.

Propst spoke to the Legislature’s Finance Committee on Wednesday, which he and another People’s Republic of China official Renada Peery-Galon previously worked for. He told the committee that the PRC needs more engineers, economists and other skilled personnel to handle the complex work of the commission.

“This has been debated by lawmakers for many, many years,” he said. But little has changed, he added. He cited a 2017 report by the Legislative Council Service as saying, “While adequate resources do not guarantee good regulation, good regulation becomes unlikely in the absence of it.”

The PRC typically employs around 120 people and currently has an operating budget of around $ 12 million.

The request for more money comes a little over a year before profound changes will take place in the PRC. New Mexico voters last year agreed to make the commission a three-person board, rather than an elected body of five, in 2023. Propst said a new commission needs to get off to a strong start.

He said the agency started fiscal 2022, which began in July, with insufficient funding. “And when you start your year in a hole, it’s hard to dig your way out.”

Rep. Nathan Small, a Democrat from Las Cruces, agreed that a smooth transition to the governor-appointed board was important and said that “ongoing leadership” was vital.

Provost and Peery-Galon, who also attended the meeting, generally received support or soft questions from members of the Legislative Finance Committee.

“I think it’s important that we fund it so that the services – many, many, many services – are delivered,” said Roswell Independent MP Phelps Anderson. The PRC oversees state utilities such as electricity companies, telecommunications services, and transportation companies such as ambulances, tow trucks, and coaches.

Anderson asked how Propst would find professional staff if there was a national and national shortage. Propst said he didn’t have an easy solution, but focusing on priorities and being committed to key people would help.

He also said he had juggled some vacancies and hired an economist for an open legal job. He said creative mindset and prioritization can allow an agency to build stable staff even if the private sector pays professionals more money. He is promoting an accountant and an electrical engineer, he said.

Propst also made additional inquiries to help the Commission with the expenses of moving to another building, among other things. The commission moved to the downtown Bokum building this year after being removed from the PERA building by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration last year.

He asked for $ 260,000 to upgrade the Bokum building.

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