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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Christmas Tree Bill Celebrated At Santa Fe's Compact Special Session, Updating Susana's VP Chase And Hillary And Haaland 

They used to be called "Christmas Tree bills" and in Santa Fe Monday one returned, prompting rare displays of bipartisan brotherly love, wide smiles and more pride than you would find in the parents of a newborn.

Christmas in June came at the special session of the Legislature in the form of the $295 million public works bill that put something under the trees of all 112 lawmakers.

The bill wasn't really out of the ordinary. Santa Fe passes a capital outlay package nearly every year. But the context in which approval of this one came made all the difference. The bill fell victim to a political meltdown in the final moments of the regular session in March. Ever since it has been highlighted across the state as a symbol of political failure and a reminder of the long-stagnant economy. The bill became a cause célèbre for politicians and business leaders at all levels who--while urging the special session--exclaimed: "See, we get it. We want to do something!"

The less than five hour special even brought a smile to the face of Governor Martinez who usually appears like she's chewing lemons when discussing the legislative branch. And why not? For a Republican no session is worth its $50,000 a day cost unless it includes some tax breaks. And they got some--something north of $6 million worth. Like so many others passed in recent years these will also prove ineffective in attracting any jobs or industry but will keep the GOP political base pleased as punch.

Martinez could spoil the party some by vetoing specific line items in the capital package but doing so could jeopardize the goodwill created between the two branches during the ten weeks it took to negotiate the special.

One interest group called the $295 million capital bill "enormous by New Mexico standards." But it falls well short of that description and is a reminder of just how far the state has fallen since the economic paradigm was turned upside down.

In 2007 the capital outlay bill was $500 million. In 2008 it was $348 million.  By comparison, this was a little brother to those bills and shows how we're not generating the surplus dollars we did in our formerly robust economy.

The important question in the wake of the special session is whether it represents a tipping point toward a more stimulative fiscal policy to generate growth and jobs in the state or was a one time event that might have ruffled the feathers of the fiscal hawks but leaves them firmly in control.

THE VP CHASE

A couple of items that bring Gov. Martinez's VP chase back into the spotlight. First, she's staying all in for the controversial common core education standards that many in her party are abandoning--but not Jeb Bush. Coincidentally, he is seen as the mostly likely GOP candidate to tap Martinez for the #2 spot on the national ticket--if you believe there is much of a chance she would be tapped at all.

And then there's the news that Danny Diaz, a national GOP operative who was active in Martinez's 2014 re-election, has been named Jeb Bush's campaign manager. That gives Martinez additional entree to the Bush camp. With so many contenders for the '16 GOP prez nomination, talk of who will end up in the second slot has been quieted. There could be more than 20 GOP candidates so there will be a spirited race for the number two spot when the dust has settled over who will be the nominee.

Will Martinez--thinking Bush is about the only one who would give her a shot at national politics--give him an early endorsement when he makes his candidacy official?

BRINGING IN BERNIE

Haaland & Hillary
Eyebrows were raised when our Senior Alligators reported that NM Dem Party Chair Debra Haaland introduced Hillary Clinton at a a recent ABQ fundraiser as "the next president." What about Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley? They're also in the race for the Dem prez nod. Haaland now comes with this:

I feel strongly that New Mexicans should have the opportunity to hear what each candidate has to say so they can make an informed decision before casting a ballot. That’s why I have extended an invitation to Bernie Sanders to visit New Mexico as well, and intend to do so for all declared Democratic Presidential candidates.

Hillary is popular among NM Dems but many liberals are staying on the fence.

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