Spaceport America Appeals to Cash Strapped Legislature

Sunset at the "Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space" terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)
Sunset at the “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)

Spaceport America officials are going hat in hand to the New Mexico Legislature as the capital is getting hit with a deluge of bad economic news.

Economists are expected to release new state revenue estimates this week. And given the relentless slide in oil prices – on which about 12.5 percent of New Mexico’s direct general fund revenue depends – legislators may have significantly less to work with in fiscal 2017 as they try to fund everything from public education to Medicaid – as well as the day-to-day operations of the $218.5 million Spaceport America.

Crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped from more than $50 a barrel in November to about $30 a barrel Monday. Every $1 drop in the price of oil amounts to a state revenue reduction of about $10 million.

In the past few years, the spaceport has gotten about $462,000 annually from the Legislature to help fund operations. Gov. Susana Martinez’s proposed $6.5 billion budget asks for the same annual outlay for the spaceport plus an additional, non-recurring $2.35 million “for operating costs due to a shortfall in revenue from other sources.”

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