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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dissecting The Spin: A Look At Guv's Latest Fund-Raising Letter, Plus: Driver's License Issue Fading? And: Labor Leader Says Dems Should Stop Infighting Over Corporate Tax Cut 

Governor Martinez may have a skimpy legislative record to campaign on next year, but while the Dems try to figure out who would be a good nominee, the Guv's spin machine is in full gear, doing its best to put some meat on Susana's legislative bones. Here are some statements from her latest fund-raising letter, along with blog analysis:

This session, we did something many thought impossible--we cut taxes and passed what they are calling the most significant tax reform in a generation.

Who are "they?"

The New Mexico Jobs Package cuts the business tax rate from 7.6 percent to 5.9 percent. That rate makes us much more competitive and will help grow jobs.

Okay, so should we expect in November of 2014 (election time) to have had a bunch of new corporations locate here? And if they haven't, should we then repeal the corporate income tax cut?

But we still have a lot of work left to do. The majority Democrats in the legislature continued the failed practice of giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. This is a dangerous law and I will continue to fight to repeal it.

See our report below on how more states are actually liberalizing driver's license laws for undocumented immigrants.

In a little over two years, we have accomplished a great deal: In a bipartisan manner, we eliminated the largest structural budget deficit in state history--without raising taxes.

What "structural deficit" might that be? Much of the shortfall was tackled by Governor Richardson and the Legislature before Susana took office--and it included a tax increase. Also, we see Susana is no longer calling the structural deficit "$450 million." Is that because the claim can't be backed up?

(The Governor) provided A-B-C-D or F letter grades for public schools. Cut Governor’s office staff, fired chefs and cut Governor’s residence budget by 55%, and sold the state’s luxury jet. Allowed pensions to be taken from corrupt elected officials convicted of corruption. Prohibited corrupt individuals from contracting with the state.

Okay, those may not be all that earth shaking, but they at least they are accurate.

THEN AND NOW

We took a look at our 2010 Election Eve column regarding Martinez's likely win and we have to say so far it has played out pretty much as we expected and predicted: From that Nov. 1, 2010 blog:

If she wins, as the polls indicate she will, Martinez, at least for her first two years, will be in charge of downsizing state government while not dismantling the safety net that is essential to hundreds of thousands citizens in one of the nation's most poverty-ridden states. That sounds more painful than bold, but pain doesn't make a very good campaign slogan.

DIVERSION NO MORE?

The big diversion the Governor has put before the public for three years is her quest to repeal the issuance of driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. Her political team has attempted to demonize Dem legislators who oppose the repeal, but the times they are a changin' and we wonder if the repeal issue will have legs beyond the Republican base as we approach the '14 campaign.

The news:

Gone are the days when New Mexico and Washington were the only states to issue driver's licenses to immigrants in the country illegally. Last week, the governors of Oregon and Maryland signed bills that will allow residents without proof of immigration status to obtain driver's licenses. Illinois authorized a driver's license law for illegal immigrants earlier this year. 

Colorado legislators approved a similar bill, though no Republicans voted for it. Colorado's governor, Democrat John Hickenlooper, has not said whether he will sign the bill...Rhode Island, Connecticut and Washington, D.C., are considering expanding their driver's license laws to include those without proof of immigration status.

Martinez has tried and failed in three legislative sessions and one special session to repeal the licenses. She appeared to be eying a compromise on the issue before the '13 session, but it didn't happen.

The more public fatigue that develops over the repeal, the better for the Dems who desperately need to have a conversation about jobs and income if they are going to bring down those 60 percent approval ratings of the GOP Governor and Mayor.

A BEAR TRAP?

Jon Hendry
Jon Hendry. head of the NM union for film, stage and TV workers, thinks the Dems need to stop their infighting over the passage of Governor Martinez's corporate income tax cut--a cut he supported as the bill also contained tax incentives for the film and TV industry. His argument:

In all these discussions about the last minute tax deal, including the robo calls and the finger pointing, we’re falling into the bear trap set for us by (Martinez political adviser) Jay McCleskey.

We’re ignoring what happened to the surplus. For three years this Governor has racked up multimillion dollar budget surpluses on the backs of public employees and educators. The unfilled state jobs have now gone from a problem to a crisis. Many departments are so severely understaffed that they can’t even function--the Dept. of Workforce Solutions being a prime example. The projection for this year is another surplus of over $100 million even with the tax adjustments.

As long as they have us talking about what happened, we aren’t talking about what should be happening with this money. I am going to propose  some constitutional amendments that require funded positions be filled and any surplus be placed into a trust fund for priorities such as education

Let’s not allow the Governor’s political people to drive our agenda. This is our money; it needs to be spent where it will make the most difference, not only to our members but to all New Mexicans.

LUCKY'S IN

Luicano "Lucky Varela
Santa Fe State Rep. Lucky Varela, the subject of endless Alligator speculation about his re-election plans for 2014, announces he will seek a 14th two year term from his Santa Fe area district.

He's 78 and  a health episode he had at the Capitol last year had speculation swirling that he could end his career. That's what happened with ABQ Dem State Rep. Kiki Saavedra this week. He announced he would retire at the end of his current term.

Varela says he feels fine and his son, Jeff, adds:

Your Alligators my be waiting for awhile on whether "Lucky" Varela will be retiring from the Legislature soon! Rep. Varela is in good health and is as tuned into NM State Government as ever before! As Chairman of the LFC and Vice-Chair of HAFC..

The Alligators will wait, Jeff, but remember it is the Gators who are making these Roundhouse veterans disclose to the press early their re-election intentions.

Varela, chairman of the Legislative Finance Committee is also deputy chairman of the powerful House Appropriations committee chaired by Saavedra. Presumably, he would move up to chair if he wins re-election next year--a likely prospect. But let's see if any Dem primary foe emerges who thinks it's time for Lucky to step aside. That's what happened to the late Speaker Ben Lujan in the twilight of his service. A young Dem nearly knocked him off in a primary. That Dem--Carlos Trujillo--did eventually take the Lujan seat.

Santa Fe can moan all they want about the Alligators being ageist. But age is an issue. Hey, Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church don't get to vote for Pope after they reach 80. We don't think Lucky is likely to draw a primary challenger this year, but all bets are off for 2016. There is a younger generation that wants and deserves a seat at the table.

THE BOTTOM LINES

We blogged in a first draft Tuesday that southern GOP NM Congressman Steve Pearce has no announced opposition for 2014. Alamogordo attorney Leslie Endean Singh has announced she will seek the Democratic nomination for the seat....And when we broke the news Monday that longtimeABQ Dem State Rep. Kiki Saavedra would not seek re-election in 2014, we gave his age based on an incorrect entry on "Ballotpedia." Saavedera is 77....

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2013 
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