Monday, February 13, 2006

Big Bill: When Is Enough, Enough? Lawmakers Get Threats, But No Thanks, Plus: Reaction To Heather's Headlines; It's Your Monday Blog 

And I thought things were going pretty well in Santa Fe. But Big Bill says it isn't so, especially with the state senate, and has raised the specter of a dreaded special session when this 30 day confab expires Thursday. What am I missing?

There's that big spaceport on its way to passage. (Thank you Sen. Rawson.) There's the all-paper ballot voting system on its way to the Fourth Floor. (Thank you Sen. Lopez.) There's the new schools for the fast growing suburbs of ABQ and Las Cruces looking good for passage. (Thank you Rep. Miera.) There's an ethics bill aimed at the scandalized Treasurer's Office that looks headed for approval. (Thank you Reps Varela & Hobbs.) There's decent pay raises for school teachers. (Thank you Rep. Saavedra.) And there's a likely hike in store for the state minimum wage. (Thank you Speaker Lujan.)

How about some tough fiscal watchdogging? (Thank you Sen. Smith.) And a Senate that is running pretty smoothly? (Thank you Sen. Sanchez.) And what about the Guv's semi-controversial commuter rail? Plenty of cover at the Capitol for Big Bill on that one.

Did I forget full Medicaid funding without a crisis? (Thank you Senator Feldman.) And a whopping eight percent increase in the overall state budget? (Thank you NM oil and gas industry.)

Oops. I forgot. This is the "Year of the Child." And there's the rub. Big Bill, with a more than cooperative Legislature, is pushing through enough bills for two sixty day sessions never mind one thirty. Which gives rise to the question: when is enough, enough? And since when did dividing up "pork" become unseemly? Haven't they been doing that since 1912? And isn't the Guv getting more than his fair share?

Leader Sanchez
When you dub a session the "Year of the Child" or a "Year of the Judiciary" you set yourself up as a one-trick pony. So with just hours to go and in spite of the major successes likely headed for his signature, Big Bill says enough is not enough.

Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. One of the more productive short legislative sessions in recent history could be judged a failure (at least by the Guv) if last minute negotiations over portions of his agenda end up hamstrung.

When the gavel finally comes down he will probably find the Legislature funding a bunch of his child programs too. But instead of thanks the lawmakers are getting threats.

It wouldn't be the first Fourth Floor overreach. Remember last year's special session on taxpayer energy rebates when the senate gave back more money than the Guv wanted? A couple of days later he was on the tube taking credit for the senate action. Maybe that's what will happen this time too.

If there was ever a time to declare victory and go home, this would seem to be it. But like beauty, I guess victory is in the eyes of the beholder. Maybe someone can replace Big Bill's rose-colored glasses. His Legislative session has been plenty rosy without them.


Not since she condemned Janet Jackson for showing a nipple at the Super Bowl has ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson been so exposed to national attention and like the Jackson incident, this one is drawing both praise and pans.

Most important for Heather, in a re-election battle with Dem Patricia Madrid, her hometown newspapers are standing by her. Both the traditionally pro-Wilson ABQ Journal editorial page and the more liberal ABQ Tribune made space to support her call for more disclosure to Congress of the Bush White House eavesdropping program.

Meanwhile, critics of Wilson's "bold move" as the Trib dubbed it, make for an odd blend. On one hand, there are Dems who say it was a political stunt so Heather could assert her "moderate" credentials in her heavy D district. They are joined by conservative doubters such as
Dan Henninger of the Wall Street Journal editorial page who wonders if "the local politics of Albuquerque is now setting national security policy."

Over at NM GOP headquarters, the party chose not to deal with Wilson's break with the White House directly and instead attacked Madrid's reaction which they called a real "howler" and managed to bring the State Treasurer scandal into the story.


Leave it to conservative syndicated columnist Robert Novak to keep the heat on Big Bill. In his latest dispatch Novak tries to set up the Guv in the event Dem Patricia Madrid fails in her bid to unseat ABQ GOP U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson. Says Novak:

"Gov. Richardson's stock for the 2008 Democrat presidential nomination may rise or fall depending on whether Republican Rep. Heather Wilson keeps her seat representing the New Mexico congressional district that includes Albuquerque.

Wilson is a principal target of Rep. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Her opponent is state Attorney General Patricia Madrid, who appears to have the financing to wage a strong race against Wilson." Pens the outspoken Novak.

Maybe Novak has a point but from this corner it seems a stretch since the district has never gone Dem in its 30 plus year history. A more relevant indicator will be the Guv's margin of victory in his re-elect, presuming it is a winning margin. Hey, we cover all our bases in this crazy game.

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