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The Latest: New Mexico candidates clash on state spending

October 25, 2018

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on the campaign for governor of New Mexico (all times local):

8:30 p.m.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce says New Mexico’s financial surplus should not go toward increased annual general fund spending that sustains teacher and state agency salaries.

In a televised debate Wednesday, Pearce says he would be cautious about new spending that must be sustained each year by state government. He favors one-time infrastructure improvements to roads, sewers and high-speed internet lines that boost private-sector employment.

Democratic contender Michelle Lujan Grisham says some new money must be spent to hire social workers to better ensure childhood safety. She also said a court order proves that classrooms need more resources.

State economists are forecasting a $1.2 billion general fund budget surplus for the coming fiscal year, with unofficial estimates of up to $2 billion.

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11 a.m.

Two candidates for governor of New Mexico are scheduled to meet for a final public debate in the midst of early voting across the state.

Republican Steve Pearce and Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham have given up re-election in Congress to run for governor, with a final debate scheduled for Tuesday evening. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez cannot run for a third consecutive term in office.

Previous debates have dwelled on solutions to New Mexico’s high poverty rates, troubled public education system and concerns about crime. The candidates have divergent approaches to energy-sector regulation, recreational marijuana and gun safety.

The gubernatorial race has turned more combative in the final weeks amid before Election Day on Nov. 6, with both candidates distributing photos of their opponents posing with convicted criminals.

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