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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Gaming Over Special Session Goes On; Guv Indicates Tax Breaks Not Essential For Deal, Plus: Martinez Talks Capital Outlay Reform; A Problem In Need Of A Plan, And: Don't Forget Jeff 

The Guv appears to have inched closer to agreeing to a special session of the Legislature without including a package of tax breaks in her call. That has been the sticking point with Senate Dems who seem amenable to a special but only if it is limited to the $264 million capital outlay bill that died in the final moments of the recent session. That would set up a quick one day meeting that keeps wrangling to a minimum. Martinez told a biz crowd that the special "could" include the tax package not that it would or had to. . .

The small tax break package is not unpopular but there is no reason it can't wait until the next regular session in January. After all, it totals about $6 million, hardly an amount that is going to impact the broad economy. So if the tax cutters can curb their obsessive- compulsive disorder for a couple of months, we might be able to get hundreds of millions flowing into the economy starting this summer. . .

Not many will disagree with Gov. Martinez as she ends her silence on the mess that is known as capital outlay but what's her solution?

Martinez sounded a familiar call for New Mexico’s capital outlay system to be overhauled. The Republican governor said state lawmakers should fully fund infrastructure projects included in the annual capital works bill, not just provide partial funding. “We need to fully fund projects."  Piecemeal funding means state dollars frequently go unspent, she added, saying, “You can’t spent it because it’s not enough (to complete the project) — so it just sits there.”

The unspent hundreds of millions in money approved for various construction projects is much more of a sore point today than it was when the state's economy was vigorous. Santa Fe is going to have do more than just state the problem and actually do some heavy lifting and engage in political infighting to free up money that's frozen for projects unlikely to ever be completed. In other words--the governor and legislators are going to have to spend some political capital to get the needed reform.

As for that $4.5 billion in unspent state fund balances (including unspent capital outlay) that the State Auditor says is out there--some of which could and should be redirected and spent--here is that office's rundown of the various funds the money is in. Next, we need a complete list of specific projects that are stalled out. Maybe the Dept. of Finance under Secretary Clifford can get to work on that?

14 MONTHS

And we've got some 14 months to endure the speculation about Martinez being a possible VP pick on the 2016 ticket. The latest has her paired with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, even though everyone knows the two can't stand each other. Like we said, 14 months of this. . .Ugh.

DON'T FORGET JEFF

Romero
In the first draft of the blog Wednesday--since corrected--we wondered how long it has been since BernCo had an Hispanic district attorney. Well, we received a deluge of email on that one. It certainly wasn't at least 50 years ago as we said. Attorney Jeff Romero was elected DA in 1996 and defeated for re-election in the Democratic primary of 2000 by Kari Brandenburg. However, it does raise the question of whether Romero has been the only Hispanic to hold the post in the last 50 years or more. We think he is and perhaps the only Hispanic ever elected to the job.

Sorry we forgot you, Jeff. The traditional ten lashes with a wet noodle have been administered. Ouch. . .

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