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Monday, January 30, 2017

Good News For the Guv: House R's Will Not Support Overriding Any Possible Vetoes, Also: Budget Mess Appears On Course To End With Another Kick The Can Plan, Plus: Two Top Dems Line Up To Replace Grisham 

Good news for the Guv. The head counters report state House Republicans will likely stand firm against any tax increases and also not support overriding any gubernatorial vetoes should tax hikes somehow make it to her desk this legislative session. The Dems control the House and Senate but not by the margins they would need to override a veto.

The session is unfolding pretty much how our Alligators said it would. Gov. Martinez wants to come out of this budget crisis with no tax increases and it's not only the R's who are paving the way for her to do that. The Democrats are lending a hand. How?. . .

Well, the Santa Fe spin from the Legislative Finance Committee and Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith is that things might actually look better for the  budget year that begins July 1 as tax collections are showing a slight uptick and the oil price is holding in the low 50's, above the price the state anticipated.

So what if the LFC and economists have been wrong for years on end, constantly overestimating revenue and forcing special sessions and all kinds of kick-the-can down the road measures?

Kick-the-can is a popular political game on both sides of the aisle. So if the state budget reaps $10 million for every dollar the price of oil goes up, predict it will go up $10 bucks or so and you get a fast $100 million--at least on paper.

And then there's all those esoteric state cash accounts that have been raided for one time money to keep the lights on in Santa Fe. Every year more of them seem to surface, along with an endless supply of unspent capital outlay funds tucked away that are "swept" into the budget.

Of course, none of this creates a long lasting recurring revenue stream to put the state on steady footing for the future. But it does let Martinez keep her promise of never raising taxes and the Democrats from actually having to confront the Governor who still seems to put the fear of God in them despite her fading popularity and failed austerity politics.

So forget about the sound and fury coming from the Roundhouse. You might call it #Fakenews. The fix is in--yet again.

CYFD AND YOU

Victoria Martens
The Children Youth and Families Department could use some extra gubernatorial and legislative attention. One case in particular would justify a special legislative hearing during the session. The horrid abuse and murder of 10 year old Victoria Martens continues to reverberate and the news is not good for CYFD. The agency had much more contact with the Martens family than first thought and a number of experts say they dropped the ball--big time. One of them is reader Richard Flores, a former longtime CYFD employee, who was, among other things, a treatment supervisor, investigators supervisor and CYFD regional manager: CY

It's disturbing to that CYFD has concluded that they did as much as they could in the case of Victoria Marten's. The secretary asserts that they found no evidence of abuse or neglect, and apparently did not provide additional services following four investigations. This goes against all precepts and principles of practice and clinical assessment. 

I wouldn't expect a political appointee to understand the dynamics involved in child abuse/ neglect, nor what is required in the conduct of a CPS investigation. There are many multi-referral families that come to the attention of CYFD, and most referrals are based on valid concerns posited by teachers, family members, neighbors, and concerned citizens. Neglect is insidious, often hidden from public view or entrenched in a manner that requires persistent and diligent inquiry, especially when there are multiple reports. Investigators with insufficient experience will not follow this route unless properly guided by supervisors who ostensibly would have a greater degree of experience and expertise. 

Thinking outside the box is critical when you have multiple reports of abuse or neglect. Falling back on laws and policies to answer complex issues involved in family dysfunction does little to instill confidence in the public, and to change perceptions of state mandated services for the protection of children. I hope CYFD has learned some valuable lessons from this case.

Would a state constitutional amendment allowing a small portion of the state's Land Grant Permanent Fund to be devoted to very early childhood education (which includes numerous home visits) help halt the epidemic of child abuse in the state? The amendment would require voter approval but first the legislature must give the voters a chance to vote.

CONGRESS  '18

It may be a year and a half away but the June 2018 primary for the Dem nomination for the ABQ congressional seat is well underway. Dem Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham is vacating the seat to seek the '18 Dem Guv nod and two prominent Dems have lined up to replace here. Both BernCo Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins and ABQ City Councilor Pat Davis are letting it be known they are interested and are starting to organize. And there will be more because the Dem nomination is worth a boat load. The national R's would be hard-pressed to contest the district which has turned heavily blue in the last ten years. The winner of the Dem primary is likely the next US representative.

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