Thursday, January 12, 2012
Santa Fe Session Nears; We Chime In With A Blog Agenda, Plus: More On Susana & Compromise, Also: Team Obama Sets Up NM Shop
As the 30 day session of the New Mexico Legislature prepares to kick off Tuesday its time for another installment of "If We Ruled The World." Or in this case, what we would have the 112 solons (and one Guv) do when they saddle up in Santa Fe.
--Job one is a monster capital outlay bill. News that our construction industry ranks dead last in the USA should rally lawmakers to start pouring the concrete. The slight economic recovery means there will be more money available this session. Combine that with some of the $400 million in capital outlay that is stuck in the bureaucracy and not being spent and you could start some robust economic activity around here while improving the state. What is a "monster" bill? That would be north of $400 million. Will we get even half of that from overly cautious lawmakers who are all comfortably employed, unlike the thousands of construction workers and others impaled by the recession/Depression?
--Agree to limit debate on the Guv's bill calling for the repeal of the law that allows undocumented workers to get driver's licenses. Despite some movement, it is headed for failure again. Why gum up the works with it? Give it half a day and move on.
--Do pass the Guv's proposal to eliminate the gross receipts tax for small businesses that pay less than $200 a month in GRT. Even if this isn't a jobs starter, it does make the little guys more competitive. That could keep them around longer, improving their chances of becoming big guys and adding jobs.
--Get on with the generational reform the state is crying out for by passing the Constitutional Amendment that would draw limited funds from the state Permanent Fund for educational and social programs for children from birth to five years old. The measure is not a raid and would have to be approved by the public. Our sorry social state of affairs with stubborn poverty, lousy graduation rates and the rest is caused by a deadly cycle of ignorance. Here's a chance to break it. Let the public vote.
--Did you see that line a couple of months ago snaking out from the NM Expo grounds? They were lined up for an offer of free dental care. How about getting a dental school started at the University of New Mexico this session?
--Give state workers on the low end of the salary scale that measly half-percent pay raise that is being proposed for all state workers. They will be most apt to turn around and spend it, putting some money--as little as it may be--back into the economy. Besides, three years of no pay raises is demoralizing. Showing a little love for the middle class state worker isn't going to break us.
--Back to the gross receipts tax. How about repealing some of the many unnecessary big industry exemptions from the tax to finance the elimination of the tax on the little guy?
Then there's eduction and Medicaid, but that's all for today. Ruling the world can wear you out.
While we wait for a more robust private sector economy to take hold, what's wrong with adding some nice paying federal government jobs? Nothing. From DC:
Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall and Congressmen Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján are urging the Obama administration to open a regional Patent and Trademark Office in central New Mexico. Such a move could bring with it as many as 100 highly-skilled professional jobs. Last month, President Obama signed a bill into law that streamlines the process for granting patents. As part of that law, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is required to open at least two regional offices to help address the backlog of 680,000 pending
That's the kind of stuff we need, but please, don't tell the Tea Party.
A COMPROMISE PLOT?
Susana's new use of the "C" word--compromise--is being closely watched. Reader Carlos Acosta emails:
Joe, You mentioned that Gov Martinez may be willing to compromise and work with the Dems this year. I'm in Florida for a week enjoying the warm weather and saw in the news that Gov Rick Scott actually had the same talking points in his state of the state address. Coincidence? Maybe or maybe not. I'm just wondering if the National Republican Governors Association is making all Republican Gov's say the same thing after getting slammed last year for driving a hard right agenda and their lack of compromise?
Reader Charles Turner writes:
Joe, I am a daily reader and enjoy your blog. I however disagree with your piece Wednesday on Congressman Steve Pearce. If a child is adopted by a parent does that mean they are not family? Congressman Pearce has spent his life in New Mexico, he has made his living in our great state. He was born in Texas but has known New Mexico as home, as far as I am concerned he is a New Mexican.
We blogged that Pearce wrote in his recent newsletter that New Mexico has "always" been his home, even though he was born in Texas.
The Obama campaign is staffing up as the election season nears. Ray Sandoval will the top gun for the Prez in NM. He is a former attorney and, during the 2008 election, led field and voter registration efforts in Rio Rancho. Ray originally hails from Santa Fe and holds the title of state director for Obama.
Mahen Gunaratna will be the New Mexico Press Secretary for Organizing for America, the grassroots organization that helps elects Democrats up and down the ticket. He most recently served as Communications Director for Rep. Wilson, a freshman House member from South Florida. Before that he served as Press Secretary for Rep. Kendrick Meek.
Obama starts his New Mexico drive for re-election in pretty good shape, according to the latest polling.
A deal is before the court over state Senate redistricting and this news from it is an eye catcher:
In southeastern New Mexico, Republican Sens. Rod Adair of Roswell and William Burt of Alamogordo end up in the same district.
"Lightning Rod" Adair against Burt in a Republican primary? We'd pay the price of a bag of popcorn to see that one. Adair, a demographer, has been around the Roundhouse since '97. Burt is an Alamogordo radio station owner who was appointed to the senate last year to fill the seat left vacant when Dianna Duran became secretary of state.
WHAT DID WAYNE GET?
Insiders say look for GOP Bernalillo County Commission Wayne Johnson to get a seat on the city-county water utility board. That comes after Johnson voted to support Dem Art De La Cruz for commission chair over incumbent chair and Dem Maggie Hart Stebbins. De La Cruz won the vote 3 to 2.
GOP Commissioner Micheal Wiener also voted for De La Cruz. We described him as a "gadfly," meaning he often goes his own course, but Michael says rather than gadfly he's a "common sense" moderate.
The definition of a gadfly is: "A person who upsets the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions, or just being an irritant."
Maybe we got Michael mixed up with us?
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