Monday, March 21, 2016

Sanchez Moves To Put Air Between Him And Martinez: Lt. Gov. Splits With Administration On UNM Health Overhaul, Plus : Susana's Perplexing Presidential Problem, And: On The Econ Beat As Dr. No Goes Dove 

Lt. Gov. Sanchez (Moore, Journal)
You could see it coming, you just didn't know when it would hit. Well, now it has. Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez has finally moved to put some space between himself and Governor Martinez as he eyes an increasingly fragile environment for his election as Governor in 2018.

Sanchez has been under pressure from allies to start Operation Separation. They fear Martinez's final two years starting next year will end like that of most Governors--in a sea of controversy and unpopularity.

If Sanchez hopes to succeed her, they argue, he won't be able to campaign on her accomplishments--slight as they are--and could himself become embroiled in burgeoning ethical issues surrounding the administration, not to mention being blamed for the worst economy in modern state history.

So it was against that background that late Friday Sanchez posted on his Facebook page his disagreement with the UNM Regents rushed and sweeping changes to the governance structure of the UNM Health Sciences Center.

The Governor appoints all of the UNM Regents and this Health Sciences movida was backed strongest by the Regents most politically connected to Martinez. Even the Republican newspaper parted company with the Fourth Floor on this one and Sanchez seized the opportunity to make his move:

Not only were these changes made without input from key stakeholders including students, faculty, staff, and partners, but certain regents and Health Sciences Center staff were seemingly excluded from the process until just days before the public meeting. . . The Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board recommended that, “[R]ather than vote on these policy changes…a better prescription would be for regents to take a breath and ensure there is sufficient time and opportunity for discussion and deliberation.” I agree with the Editorial Board and was disappointed by the regents’ decision to move forward hastily on such a complicated issue. 

Using a newspaper editorial to make his break from Susana's side was not exactly spitting in her eye, but it got the job done. Sanchez also worked to soften the sting on the Governor by issuing his statement on a late Friday afternoon, the traditional time to make news less noticeable.

But in the months ahead we look for the Sanchez-Martinez split to be a Sunday through Monday deal--that is if Sanchez has any hope of inoculating himself from what history says--and what recent events already show--that the next two years are going to be a rocky road for Susana and Company.


Well, now Susana says "never mind" when it comes to the presidential race. This after her politically disastrous endorsement of Marco Rubio on the cusp of his primary election humiliations by Donald Trump. Martinez has retreated to a neutral corner, saying she's undecided about the hyper-controversial GOP race.

Well, it's more like she's between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Endorsing the radical right via Trump or Cruz is untenable for an Hispanic Republican Governor and endorsing a third party run by a GOP establishment backed candidate poses more political risk.

Darn, Susana, the Alligators told you not to wade into the presidential pond in the first place but Jay and the boys dragged you in as they see those high level contacts and contracts jeopardized. Now you're stuck in the mud. Well, while you're there do yourself a favor and ask the Gators for some advice. Geez. . . .


We've heard of running away from an issue that doesn't work for you, but Valencia County GOP State Rep. Kelly Fajardo may be going for the record. In an op-ed defending the recent legislative session, Fajardo does not once mention the most important four letter word in the state--jobs. Instead, she carves out a starring role for herself in the GOP's "All Crime All The Time" drama. Guess no one told her that show is either about to be cancelled or downsized into a mini-series.

Hey, Kelly, can we gently remind you that the whispering about you someday wanting to be Speaker of the House comes with a higher wall to jump?


Keeping it on the econ beat, reader Richard Tarangelo comes with this on the struggling state budget:

Joe, Thank you for being the only commentator that has pointed out that it seems the entire political establishment has drunk the anti-tax Kool-Aid. There is a simple, common sense and relatively painless solution to the current and future state budget shortfalls: tax cheap gas. 

The idea is this: the cheaper gas gets, the higher the tax. As the price of gas rises, the tax would disappear. This is called an indexed fuel tax and would help smooth out the ups and downs of the state budget. It would be painless, if phased in a penny at a time.


Actually, Dem State Senator John Arthur Smith, chairman of Senate Finance, a fiscal conservative nicknamed "Dr. No," and now freaking out about the state's massive budget shortfall brought on largely by the crash in energy prices, is advocating for a small increase in the gasoline tax. He says in the most recent Legislative Finance Committee newsletter:

. . . It is perhaps time for even the staunchest tax foes to have an open mind. Certainly, like any large bureaucracy, the state leaks money, perhaps millions, through inefficient practices, misspending, and outright fraud, but tackling “waste, fraud and abuse” fails to address the over-reliance on a notoriously changeable oil and gas industry and is unlikely to generate substantial revenue. . . Indeed, if some politicians are going to completely close the door to anything that looks like revenue enhancement--whether it’s an increase to an unusually low gas tax, the temporary delay of a major tax cut for corporations, or a user fee--then they have to accept some programs might not survive, not because they don’t provide an important service but because the service they provide is not as important as others. Keep in mind. . . every service provided by state government is important, perhaps critical, to someone.

How about that? Did we just see a dove scare away that hawk atop the Roundhouse?

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