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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Martinez Raises Stakes In Tug Of War With Legislature; Threatens Worker Furloughs; Our Analysis And Comment, Plus: Grisham Sets Kick-Off Guv Fundraiser With Targeted Message, And: Our New Blog Schedule For The Spring/Summer Months 

For someone who steadfastly refused to endorse Donald Trump, Gov. Martinez sure sounds like him. She told a business group in ABQ Monday that at the recent legislative session she "went big and they (legislators) went small." What's next? The governor accusing her legislative foes of having little hands?

Rather than a "crisis" the Governor insists we have for the final months of the current budget year and which has driven her to threaten employee furloughs and shorter school days because of that imaginary circumstance, it seems what we really have is some kind of Trumpian penis envy driving state policy.

The Governor's assertion that the state doesn't have money to pay its bills flies in the face of not only Democratic logic but Republican as well. Together they passed a solvency package (which she signed) at the recently concluded legislative session. It provides the money to see us through for the budget year that ends June 30. But admitting that would deprive Martinez of the leverage she is exerting on lawmakers as she prepares to call them back into special session.

That session will be over the budget for the year starting July 1 and which the Governor refuses to sign because it contains some $350 million in tax increases to bring it into balance and build cash reserves. But as Democratic House Speaker Egolf and GOP Senate Leader Ingle have ably pointed out, the Governor could veto the tax increases, accept the rest of the budget and still have a balanced budget. State cash reserves would be well below par if she chose to do that, but we would have a budget and no need for a special session.

This is last stand time for the lame duck chief executive who sports an anemic 42 percent approval rating. She appears to be trying to claim some kind of legacy after seven years of pettiness and trifling. Her scheme is to force lawmakers to approve a conservative tax reform bill that stormed to life only to find death in the killing fields of the Senate when the mish-mash was discovered to be more ambiguous than the Mona Lisa's smile.

After all these years it's hard to deny that what this Governor really enjoys and what she really sees as her legacy--as twisted as it may be--is to continue to get rid of as many government workers as she can and shrink the budget to the size of a handful of pinto beans. That's going "big" all right--with small-mindedness.

MAKING A PITCH

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham will hold a "kick-off fundraiser" this Saturday for her campaign for the '18 Dem gubernatorial nomination. Let's do some analysis of her messaging that accompanies the pitch for cash:

The pitch says: Grisham is running for Governor because she believes that we can make quality healthcare more accessible for women, seniors and veterans.

That hits key groups important to her winning the nomination but is "quality healthcare" really not accessible here? Perhaps in some of the more remote rural areas, but healthcare facilities generally abound and are accessible, especially with the expansion of Medicaid.

For example, on Monday we blogged of how NM leads the nation in the number of births financed by the federal/state Medicaid program. And the percentage of the New Mexico population currently uninsured (thanks largely to Medicaid expansion) has reached a modern low.

As for seniors, those 65 and older qualify for Medicare and low income New Mexicans of all ages qualify for the aforementioned Medicaid. The candidate's pitch resonates better when it mentions veterans. Even though they are covered by government insurance and have access to veterans' hospitals, quality healthcare at those facilities has long been a sore spot and one that Grisham has been working to resolve.

Grisham is the only female candidate (so far) for the nomination and more women will vote in the Dem primary than men. Also, the primary electorate skews older than a general election. As for the veterans, that gets you into a more conservative slice of the Democratic electorate and also one populated with many Hispanic male veterans.

SIDEBAR

Former Lt. Governor Diane Denish, who endorsed Hector Balderas in his 2012 US Senate primary against Martin Heinrich, will not be there for him if the attorney general decides to get in the Guv fray. Denish has signed up as a co-host for the Grisham fundraiser. Heinrich bested Balderas for the Senate nomination in '12 and went on to get elected.

SPRING/SUMMER BLOG SCHEDULE

With the arrival of the warm weather months and no general election this year, the political news will slow some and we'll adapt to those months by bringing you NM Politics with Joe Monahan Tuesday through Thursday rather than the current five days a week schedule. Of course, if big news breaks out we'll break in no matter the time or day. And you can always find us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest on La Politica. Our new schedule is effective next week when we'll look forward to starting the blogging week with you Tuesday, April 4.

Thanks for your continued interest and support.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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