Friday, May 08, 2009

Here Come The Cuts: Obama Budget Has Pain For NM, Plus: Dancin' The Big Bill Blues Away; Guv's "Stanky Leg" Rocks Acoma and YouTube 

We're going to be hearing a lot of complicated spin about the proposed federal budget for New Mexico, but the most important fact is this--long-term funding for the Department of Energy is going down in this state. That's the trend and there seems little chance it will be reversed.

According to NM senior Senator Jeff Bingaman:

The president’s budget request would result in about $4 billion of spending from all DOE programs in NM in FY 2010, down from the $4.3 billion voted by Congress for the comparable DOE programs in NM in FY 2009. This includes a decline in spending at Los Alamos National Laboratory from $1.885 billion in this fiscal year to $1.741 billion in the new budget request from the president. The total for Sandia National Laboratories would grow slightly, from $1.322 billion to $1.343 billion.

Los Alamos was slammed with a seven percent proposed reduction. Get ready for more "For Sale" signs on the streets there.

Jeff's take on Sandia sounds like it is a slight budget increase, but it is actually one step forward and two steps back. In FY '08, Sandia received $1.40 billion, but in FY '09 that dropped to $1.332 billion. Now the proposed FY '10 budget is $1.343 billion, well below '08 and confirming the long-term downward trend. Senator Bingaman and the rest of the delegation should have some luck boosting Obama's numbers for the labs, but history says not much.

The $300 million overall DOE NM cut represents a seven percent reduction in funding. Throw in a point or two to account for inflation, and you're close to a double-digit slash in DOE funding here.

Yes, there will be one time stimulus and other possible spending bumping the numbers here and there, but the fact is that in the years ahead the plan is for Los Alamos Labs to continue to shrink and Sandia Labs, at best, to stay flat at the currently reduced levels.


If you hang around here, you're not surprised at this news. When Energy Secretary Chu visited ABQ recently and did not issue any budget assurances, it was clear the state would take a hit.

As for the labs significantly diversifying their mission into "alternative energy" and "Green" programs, there appears to be little support in Congress for such a notion. The budget proposes that Sandia get about $60 million for renewable energy, a 25 percent increase but still not a big deal in the overall scheme of things.

The world has changed and nukes aren't what they used to be. Obama and Bush before him weren't singling us out, just dealing with reality. Senator Domenici's historic seniority and interest in national security kept the budget propped up. He's now gone.

New Mexico's political and economic leadership is going to have its hands full trying to bringing jobs in here to replace what is inevitably going to be slowly lost. Don't say we didn't tell you.


The politicos continue to fight the battle of the budget statewide, and they are doing their best to do it without cutting jobs. ABQ City Councilor and budget honcho Ken Sanchez tells us that despite the projected budget deficit for the city now being estimated at $68 million for the year starting July 1, he believes layoffs are not on the table. He says the savings from not filling vacant positions--about 180--and other cost cuts should do the job. If the deficit climbs north of $68 million, Sanchez says we would then likely have to see hours cut or furloughs. The good news--if there is any--is that the deficit may come in at $50 million, but budget minions want to assume the worst--just in case.

By the way, so far, Sanchez is unopposed for a second four year term on the council in the October election. He has been one of the area's more reliable vote-getters, serving a couple of terms on the Bernalillo County Commission before becoming a councilor.


ABQ Mayor Marty doesn't want to miss a presidential visit slated for Thursday in ABQ, so insiders report he is juggling his travel schedule. He has an official trip scheduled for France, but wants to be here for President Obama's Thursday ABQ Town Hall on credit card debt. Hey, if you were seeking re-election in October, you would, too.


Their hanging on in Gallup, NM budget wise, but there is increasing pressure, say city officials...

GALLUP, NM--Citing concerns over a projected $500,000 shortfall for the city in the 2010 fiscal year, City Manager Gerald Herrera requested cuts in non-essential service positions and professional service agreements. The cuts will reduce the shortfall by half. The hope is that, along with cuts to overtime and travel, the city will eliminate the shortfall.


Federal grand jury breathing down your neck? Polls that have dropped below 50 percent? A state treasury that is starting to look as barren as Mother Hubbard's cupboard? What's a Governor to do? Why, take to the dance floor and shake those blues away--or at least try to put on a hip step. Here he is being encouraged by singer Jana Mashonee as he attempts the Stanky Leg at a recent event at Acoma, NM. Okay, Guv, take us into the weekend. We're all ready to party!

Besides dancing, Bill is keeping a busy public schedule. From May 6 to 8, he is in Farmington, Taos, Raton, Clayton, Santa Rosa, Tucumcari and Las Vegas. He may have a weak Stanky Leg, but he does know what it takes to get polling numbers up.

Julia Goldberg & Andy Dudzik
For those who missed it, here is the Monday post that set them back on their heels--our Alligators reporting that two key figures in the federal CDR corruption investigation--Amanda Cooper and Chris Romer--have been granted immunity for their testimony before the federal grand jury. The word had been on the street for quite a while, but the Gators did not give us the exact reasons why the immunity was granted and that had them getting second guessed by other bloggers who said we should not have put the report out (getting immunity doesn't necessarily mean you broke the law) but many readers said the in-depth report and analysis was some of our best work.

Our CDR report apparently prompted a bizarre and kind of creepy twist. A couple of our advertisers, including Dan Serrano, report they were called by a reporter from the Santa Fe Reporter--an alternative weekly newspaper--and asked if they were an Alligator, why they advertise here and inferring, reports construction company owner Serrano--that they shouldn't. Well, they advertise here, as Sally Field once said, "because you like me! You really like me!" And any cub reporter knows an Alligator never admits to being an Alligator or he wouldn't be an Alligator! But those who buy ads here are not responsible for the ideas expressed here. Are they in the Reporter? But there we go with one of those sticky freedom of the press and freedom of association questions. Hmm. Is there a "news" story here?

The editor of the Reporter is Julia Goldberg. The paper is also the old stomping grounds of NM Independent managing editor David Alire Garcia whose bloggers were pretty upset with our exclusive this week and went on quite the tear against us. And we returned some of the heat. Alire Garcia also toils for taxpayer-funded KNME-TV where he co-hosts the In-Focus program on which Dave Maass, the Santa Fe reporter calling our advertisers, sometimes appears as a guest. Maass also left us a phone message, but did not say what he was calling about. Now we know.

We don't know what Julia or Santa Fe Reporter publisher Andy Dudzik have in mind for us, but we probably should appreciate any attention. But don't worry about us. We've cut back so much in this recession that if the Santa Fe Reporter intimidates all our advertisers away, we'll barely notice. Heck, they'll be simplifying our life. And if we have time this weekend we'll return the favor and gather up some friends and shake down some of the Reporter's advertisers. Julia, you'll love the gang. Hey, maybe we'll go up on the RailRunner and relax at La Fonda afterwards. We hear the Plaza could use the business...

Long Live The Alligators!

From Albuquerque, New Mexico, I'm Joe Monahan.

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