Friday, July 18, 2008
It looks as though Big Bill is flooding the zone for that special session of the Legislature. The chief executive has unveiled an expanded agenda and he's now talking about having it in early August. That surprised the wall-leaners who were guessing the September session would stick, but an August meet would improve the chances of getting those rebate checks in taxpayers' mailboxes before the November election. All 112 members of the Legislature are up for re-election this year, so they will appreciate that.
The rebates might be seen as chintzy in some quarters. Each taxpayer with an adjusted income below $60,000 gets $150, plus $40 for each dependent. That's good for a couple of tanks of gas. Bill is proposing to stretch that $392 million surplus to cover a lot of territory, not just rebates.
The Guv calls his tax relief a CARE package. CARE is a long-established group devoted to fighting global poverty. Is it that bad around here? Well, if you're making $15 an hour and paying $4 a gallon, it isn't pretty. Bill says his CARE stands for Cash Assistance Relief Effort and New Mexicans are not in need of international relief, but we'd bet there are a few locales around here that wouldn't turn it down.
The Guv also added $100 million worth of road projects to the agenda. Both the rebates and road projects are viewed warmly by Senate Finance Committee Chair John Arthur Smith. However, Smith has panned Bill's original reason for calling the special--a health-care plan to cover uninsured New Mexicans. With the super-sized special, the odds that the Guv will walk away with some success skyrockets.
Meanwhile, Light Guv Denish, who was not at the news conference, put out a news release asking that a measure to address predatory home lending be added to the special agenda. That raised the question of why she had to put out a news release. Couldn't she just pick up the phone? The Guv's spokesman said Di's request would be considered. That sounds chilly, but maybe we're just genetically conspiratorial.
Richardson, always the pragmatist, signaled again that a health-care plan remains highly unlikely in the special. He said he realized he "may not get everything I want," but the special could provide "a strong start" on health-care that could be completed next year. With all the other goodies he is throwing out, the Guv hopes no one even notices.
(The Guv's road release is here. And his release on the tax rebates is here.)
It was one of the most talked-about fund-raisers in years, so we enlisted the local paparazzi to take some snaps of the party that ABQ GOP congressional candidate Darren White held Wednesday night. It featured an appearance by University of New Mexico Lobo basketball coach Steve Alford. As you know by now, after a storm of controversy Coach Steve nixed the idea of White's partygoers having their pic taken with him for $1,000 a shot. He did agree to attend the party at the ABQ North Valley home of UNM lobbyist Joe Thompson, but the NM paparazzi (that would be Mark Bralley) reports: "They snuck Alford in and out through a courted driveway."
The names of those photographed with Sheriff Darren were not available. Hey, the paparazzi can only do so much.
HARRY THE CHICKEN?
Why did Senator Pete Domenici call Senate Dem leader Harry Reid "Chicken." He takes that question on and others in this Fox News video. Domenici, 76, puts on quite the show.
OVER IN NM?
The always entertaining conservative political pundit Bob Novak is dissing McCain's chances here. Bob says our state is "lean Obama" and that McCain should not waste a lot of time here. He cites Hispanic support for Obama in explaining why McCain is lagging.
This reflects a few important factors. Most importantly, the GOP hope to win the Hispanic vote—considering McCain's pro-amnesty stance and the traditional difficulty black politicians have with Hispanics—looks like fantasy. Even in New Mexico, where the Hispanic vote may be more conservative, Democrats appear to be dominating on this score.
We blogged Thursday of a Taos County Dem meeting heavy with Hispanic activists where Obama's candidacy was well-received. But McCain may want to hold off on taking Novak's advice and pull out of the state. There's a long way to go and if something big happens, McCain will need to have a ground and air game positioned to take advantage.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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