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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Oil Gusher Resumes And State Gets A Budget Break, Also: Padilla Bows Out, Cool Down In Colorado And: Wayne's World; Auditor Appointment Starts Jockeying For BernCo Seat 

New Mexico's decades-long roller coaster ride with the oil and gas industry has again taken an upward lurch, making life a tad easier for state lawmakers when they convene their legislative session next month.

The news that there will be about $200 million more for the budget year that starts next July over what was first estimated means the budget death spiral has been halted, at least for a time. Oil has climbed to nearly $60 a barrel, making for the lion's share of new money as royalties and taxes again gush into Santa Fe's coffers.

We say a budget "death spiral" because the $6.1 billion budget for the current year is about where the general fund budget stood a long ten years ago. Calculating inflation into the equation and you see that funding for basic government operations--especially the schools--has suffered a significant decline in real dollars this past decade. That $200 million will be gobbled up quickly.

Meanwhile, Democratic legislative leaders are being taunted for not pursuing a complete overhaul of the state's complicated gross receipts tax system in the upcoming 30 day session. They are being accused of waiting for a Democratic governor to come in at the start of 2019 and do the job then. The current Governor's allies are accusing them of playing politics.

But there is no dire need to ram through a tax reform bill that originated under the House Republicans when they briefly held the majority but who are now distinctly in the minority. The majority party has a responsibility to draft its own bill using its own governing principles as the primary foundation for the reform. Besides, getting the sitting Governor to make a deal on anything is like trying to convince a scorpion not to bite you.

COLORADO COOL DOWN

While NM stagnated this past decade, Colorado boomed. And too much for some. The news:

Colorado’s red-hot population growth rate is cooling, and while current residents may celebrate, those who are leaving in increasing numbers say they were driven away by rising housing prices, jobs that don’t pay enough and traffic jams. The state in 2016 saw its first drop this decade in the number of people arriving from other states, while those leaving Colorado hit a record high, resulting in the lowest net-migration number — 30,000 total new residents — in seven years. New annual figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show that 193,000 Coloradans moved away last year, 10,000 more than in 2015, while 223,000 moved here, down about 4,000 from the year before but still well above recent years.

No need to cry for Colorado. Their growth boom was off the charts and a breather may be what they need to catch up with quality of life issues

The state that is most popular for those fleeing the Centennial state is Washington. Not neighboring New Mexico.

PADILLA BOWS OUT

No stunner here but it did take a while. ABQ Dem State Senator Michael Padilla ended his bid for the 2018 Democratic lieutenant governor nomination late Monday, over two weeks after front-running Dem Guv candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham urged him to get out.

We covered the politics of the Padilla candidacy extensively on the Monday blog and by Monday night he decided it was time to go. He said:

I do not want to be a distraction as we come together as New Mexicans to solve this unacceptable work place issue.

The brouhaha started when Grisham called for Padilla to hit the exits because of sex harassment charges leveled against him a decade ago while serving as a supervisor at an ABQ call center. He never admitted guilt but the city made settlements with the women who said they were the targets of his harassment,

What did Padilla get for getting out? Alligators wondered. Padilla did not respond when we asked him if he had met with Grisham before announcing that he was dropping out.

Is his relationship with Grisham still an issue? Will he support her in the coming campaign if, as appears likely, she is the Dem nominee? And if she's governor and he is still Senate Majority Whip will someone have to pull out a defroster to break the ice between the two?

Questions for the future but for now Dems can breathe a sigh of relief that Padilla is out and that likely GOP Guv nominee Steve Pearce has been deprived of a prime political target.

WAYNE'S WORLD

Johnson
Insider betting weighs toward former ABQ City Councilor and BernCo Commissioner Michael Brasher as the likely replacement for Wayne Johnson if, as he indicates, he soon resigns his county commission seat in the wake of being appointed state auditor by Gov. Martinez. (He took the oath Monday).

Republican Johnson is filling the unexpired term of Tim Keller who was elected ABQ mayor. Johnson ran against Keller in the recent mayoral election but failed to advance to the run-off.

Brasher has indicated he is preparing to run for the Johnson commission seat situated in the far NE Heights and East Mountains. Johnson's term expires at the end of '18. Already in the running is retired naval officer John Jones, husband of ABQ GOP congressional candidate Janice Arnold Jones.

Martinez named Brasher to the powerful State Board of Finance and the Guv's relationship with Arnold Jones remains rocky. The bad blood started in 2010 when Arnold Jones ran against Martinez for the GOP Guv nomination. There has been no peace made.

If Brasher, the longtime general manager of public radio station KANW 89.1 FM, gets the appointment, John Jones could run a primary against him but it would be an uphill battle against an incumbent. Also, Brasher was elected to the seat in 2006, preceding Johnson's tenure.

No matter the R appointed, the commission district is strong Republican. No Dems need apply.

Johnson is signaling that he will seek a full four year term for state auditor in 2018. Will that temper any zeal he may have to go after Dems as he looks to make friends across the aisle? Or does he go full throttle against Keller and legislative Dems? Or does he just play it as it lays and do a job based on good government?

And does any R have a real chance to become state auditor? None has been elected to the position since 1966 when Harold G.Thompson won what was then a two year term. He was re-elected for another two years in 1968.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017
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