Monday, August 10, 2015

Michelle Comes With A Head Turner; She'll Team With Conservative Press For Health Event, Plus: The State's Mixed Financial Bag And WisePies-UNM Deal Gets Crazier 

Rep. Lujan Grisham
Heads up Hector and Tim. Looks like Michelle is making a move. ABQ Dem Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham
turned heads when she leaked that she was weighing a run for the '18 Dem Guv nomination as presumably are Attorney General Hector Balderas and State Auditor Tim Keller. Now she comes with another head turner, teaming up with the conservative leadership of the ABQ Journal for this:

Are you frustrated with issues related to the Affordable Care Act? Want to ask about a problem you’ve experienced? Or, have the changes been good for you and your family? Do you have questions about health care policy and delivery? Do you have questions about health insurance and the cost of health care? Or about Medicaid expansion? Medicare? Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Albuquerque Journal would like to hear those questions and concerns, and provide an opportunity for as many of you as possible to pose those questions directly to the congresswoman during a forum in the Albuquerque Journal auditorium from 6 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 25.

Grisham's Republican ties are no secret and that gives her some entree with the other side of the aisle. But we wanted more on this so we strayed over to the Alligator pond and got this:

I think the Journal is somewhat fond of Michelle. Maybe because she has some Republican ties and they don't see her as a partisan political hack. But this event is kind of extraordinary. They never did this with Republican Congresswoman Wilson, Senator Domenici, Gov. Richardson, Senator Bingaman or even their favorite--Gov. Martinez. Maybe the Journal is trying to play nice and engage the people? We know readership is down. Maybe that explains it. It's really beneficial for Michelle because it plays to her strengths and gives her an issue to latch on to. (Maybe polling shows she needs some independents?) It must really worry Hector and Keller and anyone else thinking about running for governor. It's great for the Journal because after about 8 years of out-of-control conservatism, this makes them look moderate.

Hmmm. Keller hitting the Guv's Machine, Michelle warming up to the Machine press and Hector perhaps preparing to make a move. Are we finally about to get some tension in La Politica? From your lips to God's ears. . .


It's a mixed financial bag for lawmakers as the 30 day 2016 legislative session starts to come into sight. Here's how Sen. Carlos Cisneros of Senate Finance puts it:

We’re not in recession mode, but we’re not doing great, either. So long as we don’t have to make (budget) cuts, we’ll be in good shape.

Sagging energy prices could put a damper on the upcoming session but tax collections in other areas is fairly strong and Dr. Tom Clifford, state finance director, says things look "balanced." However, what doesn't look so balanced to some corners is the state's $600 million surplus while the administration holds off on filling hundreds of vacant state government positions. Putting some of that excess revenue to work could provide some stimulus to an economy that is still doing a slow walk instead of a jog.

The now $6.2 billion state general fund budget has been essentially flat for years. In the fiscal year 2007-08 the budget was $6.015 billion. Here we are seven years later with only a nominal increase and an actual decrease when inflation is factored in. Conservatives argued if we cut down the size of state government and the number of employees it would be a boon to the private sector. Despite the dramatic shrinkage that hasn't happened.

Clifford and his nest of budget hawks know this but they seem to have only one play in their playbook--cut taxes, hold state government at bay and accumulate huge surpluses they can brag about. Meantime, the state has some of the slowest job, income and population growth in the USA. Not working out too well, is it Dr. Tom?


That crazy, convoluted deal that has WisePies Pizza promising to pay UNM $10 million for the naming rights for the famous Pit just got crazier. When the basketballs start bouncing this fall it won't be WisePies the fans chomp down on while enjoying the action, it will be Domino's pizza. That's right. The rights to serve pizza at the Pit recently expired, and you would naturally expect WisePies to be the new vendor. But WisePies makes fresh pizza to order and UNM says it can't be served fast enough in a venue like the Pit. Yet WisePies name is all over the Pit. As Jim Baca would say: "Only in New Mexico!"

Well, with the odds around 20-1 against that fledgling WisePies will be able to make good on more than a year or two of its $5 million, ten year Pit naming rights plan, it makes sense that this deal got even wackier. Geez, where's Dion's when you need them?. . .. .

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