Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The #1 Rap On The GOP And How Susana Is Getting Around It, Plus: Why The D's Get Little Boost From Guv's Minimum Wage Veto 

What's the #1 rap on today's Republican party? From Gallup:

Asked to name the single thing that they disliked the most about the Republican party, one in five people in a new Gallup poll said the GOP was “inflexible” or “unwilling to compromise?"

Governor Martinez launched an unprecedented hit campaign against incumbent legislators last November and she lost most of what she fought for, but she made the turn after the election and started labeling herself a "compromiser."

Key Democratic legislators bought into it and gave her several legislative wins. It made her look more "flexible" than her first two years in which she was truly "Governor No."  In effect, they helped her break away from the badly damaged national Republican brand. That could help her when she seeks re-election next year,

As we've blogged extensively, most analysts agree the Dems came out of that legislative session with the short end of the stick, compromising mostly on the Guv's terms, even though it was the Dems who scored the most 2012 electoral success. Compromise is fine when you get something. Not so great when you walked away empty-handed.


Even on the minimum wage--a core value of the Dem Party--New Mexico the D's were unable to inflict any serious damage on the Republican governor,

Last Friday Martinez vetoed a buck an hour increase in the minimum wage. You might think that would hurt her in low-income New Mexico, but the bill was so watered down that the working class hardly noticed.

The bill the Dems sent Susana exempted firms that employed fewer than 11 persons as well as all agricultural workers. To top it off, the measure allowed employers to have a training wage of $7.50 for an hour for a worker's first six months on the job. $7.50 is the current state minimum.

The minimum wage is already $8.50 in ABQ--approved at that level by city voters last November. It's  over $10 an hour in Santa Fe--also approved by the voters.

To score a clear political win the legislative Dems needed to send the Guv a clean bill that raised the minimum to $8.50 statewide without all the loopholes. They didn't so Susana's veto is only going to itch her, not puncture any skin.


Reader John Geddie writes:

Joe, Since I travel virtually non-stop these days, your blog is vital to keep me in touch with what's happening back at home. I am so glad to see you raising the flag about the stagnant economy in New Mexico. I travel a lot -- around the US and Canada, and it is so clear that economic conditions are better in almost every state and province than they are here. My client base -- engineers and architects just isn't growing here - thus, the need for me to travel elsewhere to build my business. Ironically, because my clients are out of state, New Mexico doesn't benefit from the gross receipts taxes in-state clients would generate. I don't know if anybody is listening, but thanks for keeping the pressure on.

Thanks, John. And this news about recently retired NM Dem US Senator Jeff Bingaman isn't going to do anything to alleviate the concern over the brain drain going on here. Pay site E&E Daily reports:

Former Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman is bringing his energy policy expertise to Stanford University's law school, where he will focus on building up state renewable energy programs. Bingaman, a 1968 alum of the Stanford Law School, today joined the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance as a distinguished fellow. The former senator for the next year will focus on the future of state renewable portfolio standards and ways to ensure their objectives are met. A grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is funding the senator's fellowship through April 2014.


Labor will play in the '13 mayor race.

In preparation for the 2013 Mayoral race and the 2014 election cycle, Jon Hendry, president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor (NMFL), AFL-CIO, announced the hiring of James Hallinan and Tamara Watkins. Hallinan will serve as a General Consultant and Political Director while Tamara Watkins will serve as Communications/Field Director.


Reader JD Robertson writes of departing UNM Lobo basketball coach Steve Alford being labeled "Benedict Alford":

Mr. Monahan - Because I am a direct descendant of Benedict Arnold I am not without bias. You equate Alford with Arnold in that they both bailed. Alford stuck it to UNM and left for more money. Arnold on the other hand loaned his entire family fortune to the 'cause' and even when it could - Congress refused to pay it back. He nearly succeeded in capturing Canada for the Americans, built the first American fleet, and repeatedly battled the British to a standstill. Arnold was never paid for his services and never honored by Congress for his victories. In fact, because he was a favorite of Washington, he was the object of jealously on the part of many, many people in the government. He never held the rank of general in the American army - being constantly by-passed by members of congress who for myriad reasons despised him. He was a suburb soldier and deeply patriotic - at some point, however, he said enough was enough.


Rep. Pearce
How would this suggestion from GOP NM Congressman Steve Pearce impact all you lobbyists out there?

Rep. Pearce wants to create a "virtual Congress," where lawmakers would leverage videoconferencing and other remote work technology to conduct their daily duties in Washington from their home districts.

NM lobbyist Roman Maes responds:

Glad you asked. Pearce's proposal would clearly localize the lobby effort on a state by state area. It would gradually reduce the influence of "the true high-powered lobbyist." Locals would have more influence and communicate readily with their DC delegation. What will "the lobbyists do"? As a person born, educated and working in New Mexico, I would welcome the change.

Okay, Roman but don't hold your breath...

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