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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. MDT


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico state government income defied expectations amid the pandemic by increasing slightly during the fiscal year that ended June 30, but state economists warned Wednesday of a highly unpredictable future for state finances. In an unusual pronouncement, four state economists said Wednesday they could not pinpoint how much income the state is likely to receive during the current and coming fiscal years to sustain public education, health care, public safety and other crucial services. State government income may range from $6.8 billion to $7.6 billion during the coming fiscal year — on current annual spending obligations of $7.2 billion.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A decades-long battle over rights to the Jemez River has taken another turn. The question before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was whether the mere extension of Spanish authority over the American Southwest centuries ago extinguished the aboriginal water rights of Indigenous communities. A three-judge panel on Tuesday overturned a lower court decision, ruling that Spain would have had to take formal action to extinguish the rights, such as reducing or altering water use. Parties in the case say settling that point could affect the outcome. It will be up to the district court to handle further proceedings.


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Eleven Democratic governors have issued a joint statement defending American democracy, vowing that every valid ballot will be counted in the election after President Donald Trump sowed distrust during the first presidential debate. Trump claimed without evidence Tuesday night that mail voting is ripe for fraud, and he refused to say whether he would accept the results. The governors said Wednesday that efforts to throw out ballots or refuse a peaceful transfer of power "are nothing less than an assault on democracy." Signing the statement were the governors of Michigan, California, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico and Delaware.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — A new documentary is diving into the complicated and sometimes contradictory life of James Meredith, a Black civil rights figure who helped change Mississippi. "Walk Against Fear: James Meredith," scheduled to air Thursday on the Smithsonian Channel, examines the life of a U.S. Air Force veteran whose admission to the University of Mississippi forced President John F. Kennedy to send federal troops into the state to quell a white supremacy uprising. Meredith was later shot during a peaceful demonstration in Mississippi. Years later, he drew anger from civil rights leaders for endorsing former Klansman David Duke for Louisiana governor. 


GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico officials have allowed a judge to retire while facing 10 allegations of misconduct in office. The Gallup Independent reported McKinley County Magistrate Judge April J. Silversmith retired Aug. 31. Silversmith faced accusations of excessive absences from work, failing to attend court for the required 40 hours per week, failing to recuse or inappropriately involving herself in cases concerning family members and yelling at court staff members. Silversmith and her attorney requested the case remain sealed, but the allegations became public Sept. 4 when the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered the court filings to be opened.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The former owners of a New Mexico restaurant and pub have been ordered to pay almost $1.4 million one year after a judge ruled they violated a minimum wage ordinance. The lawsuit was brought by 16 servers who claimed that between 2013 and 2016, they were forced to illegally pay the owners of the Kellys Brew Pub and Restaurant $3 per hour from their tips to cover a 2012 Albuquerque ordinance that raised the minimum wage for tipped employees from $2.13 to $5.25. The agreement says former owners Dennis and Janice Bonfantine have not admitted wrongdoing in the case. Dennis Bonfantine declined to comment. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded Amtrak a $5.6 million grant for track improvements and other work in New Mexico and Colorado along the Southwest Chief passenger train route between Chicago and Los Angeles. The grant will help pay for upgrading 12.4 miles of rail near Lamy, New Mexico, replacing thousands of ties south of Raton Pass and along another section of track and removing loose rock in Raton Pass and other locations. Other planned work includes rebuilding railroad bridges and grade crossings.  The Transportation department said the work will result in higher speed limits for trains and reduced maintenance costs.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The Las Cruces City Council has given the green light to continue exploring what it would take to reestablish commercial air service for the southern New Mexico community. Consultants told councilors during a work session Monday that research indicates the airport could sustain two to four daily flights to Dallas, Phoenix or maybe both cities. The consultants also identified American Airlines as a potential provider. The city's economic development department has been working with the consultants to determine the feasibility of restoring passenger service. The goal would be daily, regional commercial flights out of the Las Cruces airport.