Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Special Wreck Of Legislature On Course As Guv Clash With Dems Continues, Pearce Governor Fantasy Is Meeting Reality And ABQ Mayor Race May Be "All Crime All The Time" 

It's politically clever but also a possible way out of this state budget mess. By calling for the bean counters to take another look at the revenue estimates for the budget year that begins July 1, Senator John Arthur Smith and his colleagues could avert the need for a special session that the Governor has called for May 24. How?

If the NM Supreme Court this month finds that Gov. Martinez's vetoes of the entire higher education budget and funding for the legislature were unconstitutional it would still leave a hole of $70 million, according to the Legislative Finance Committee. However, revenues have been picking up a bit and if the forecast turned out to be better that expected--say an extra $70 million--then the budget would be balanced and the legislature could wait until its January session to again get into the budget weeds.

But Martinez is nothing if not determined to inflict maximum pain on the lawmakers she has come to despise. Her emotions are running hot and she is intent on calling them back for a special session May 24th that could drag on for days since she is calling it without a deal. In fact, she is resisting any attempts to get those new budget estimates even as some members of her own party urge her to do so.

House Minority Leader Nate Gentry says it will take "political courage" to solve the impasse, with both sides giving. But the radical members in his caucus who oppose any revenue enhancement under any circumstances are not prone to compromise.


The Governor, now perhaps in a panic that she has no governing legacy, is clinging to GOP Rep. Jason Harper who along with the conservative media is pushing a complex tax code revision in exchange for a budget deal. Martinez has now put that bill on her call for the special. Talk about gumming up the works--and at a cost of $50,000 for each day of the special.

The Harper bill--inform the aforementioned Santa Fe bean counters--is a complete unknown when it comes to its impact on state revenues. That seems reason enough for it to be kicked to the curb and pronto. And Dem Rep. Bill McCamley, who has collaborated with Harper on this Rube Goldberg scheme, ought to be one of those kicking the hardest:

McCamley, who met with Harper last month to discuss the legislation, said there’s no agreement in place and that Democratic legislators have some serious misgivings about the proposal – including the potential reimposition of a tax on food items.“Anything that is proposed is going to have to be thoroughly analyzed.”

Clearly a special legislative session is not the time to make sweeping and unknowable changes to the tax code. Tax reform--including Harper's--needs consideration but it can and should wait for the next Governor in 2019, instead of being used as a bludgeon over the heads of lawmakers in the midst of a vituperative political atmosphere.

Harper has become a darling of the Tea Party but his bill is completely out of sync with the times as noted by Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth. He points out it would do nothing to generate revenue for the state but could end up costing untold millions--just like the ill-advised corporate income tax cut that both parties celebrated in 2013. That rushed cut has cost millions annually and delivered none of the promised jobs.

Faced with an intransigent but unpopular and lame duck governor, the Democratic leadership has been hanging tough in resisting further budget cuts. For them it has been a grueling six plus years of gubernatorial humiliation, intimidation and vindictiveness. They finally seem to have had enough. Good luck with that, Susana.


Pearce and Prez
The fantasy of a Steve Pearce governorship is looking even more Pollyannish in the wake of his vote to repeal Obamacare. The southern NM GOP congressman may now want to watch his back in his own district.

That repeal--even though it's likely doomed in the US Senate--is going to prove widely disliked in New Mexico. Medicaid expansion here has been dramatic and  thousands of residents have qualified for subsidized health insurance under Obamacare.

Nervous Republicans are now watching to see if a "wave" is developing against House R's in the 2018 cycle. The photo of Pearce with Trump congratulating one another on the Obamacare repeal in the White House Rose Garden is not going to play well in populous Dona Ana County which has never been a fan of Pearce and which is growing in influence as the rural population in the sprawling southern district declines.

Pearce's relationship with Trump and VP Pence could be positive for the district but the hard line on Obamacare and border security is breaking against him in heavy Dem Las Cruces and environs.

No big name Democratic candidate has surfaced to run against Pearce next year but you would think that a youngish and well-spoken state Senator like Howie Morales of Silver City might be wondering about a run. He would not have to give up his Senate seat to make the run since it is not up for election until 2020.

Because Peace has dominated the district folks forget that 41 percent of the 2nd CD is Democratic and 36 percent Republican with 19 percent independent.

Ousting an incumbent congressman is a rarity in New Mexico, but the Obamacare debacle and the Republican obsession with the border and immigration are pushing the conservative Pearce further into the arms of Trump and even further to the right than what may be good for his political health.

Pearce will turn 70 in a few months and what would be a whimsical run for governor would be out of character. Whether the Dems let Pearce rest easy in his own backyard in '18 is the question now on the table.


Crime always dominates an ABQ mayoral race, but against this backdrop this year's contest could be like one of Governor Martinez's legislative sessions: "All Crime All The Time":

. . . Since 2010, the amount of home burglaries reported to Albuquerque police range anywhere from 300 to 500 per month.That amounts to more than 4,000 home break-ins per year. The worst month on record in recent years for home burglaries in Albuquerque was in August of 2013. There were 509 that month, compared to 348 last August.

Is this ongoing crime wave the biggest failure of leadership in the modern history of ABQ?


Pete Dinelli, former ABQ mayoral candidate, city councilor, public safety director, attorney and now an ABQ blogger,  reports on his recent trip to New Orleans with wife Betty:

We ran into one of Joe Monahan's sources and asked her who the next Mayor and Governor would be and she refused to comment.

Boy, does that Lady Gator have a lot to say, but only to us. Pete and Betty get a finder's fee but you'll get the exclusive, insider story of the ABQ mayor's race right here.


She's all yours, DC. We had our fill:

The Senate confirmed President Trump's pick to lead the Air Force, the first of his military branch leaders to get through the upper chamber. Senators voted 76-22 for Heather Wilson to be the next Air Force secretary, with only a simple majority needed to approve her nomination.

The vote came one day after Wilson's longtime mentor--former NM US Senator Pete Domenici--turned 85. Now they have a reason to party together again. . .

We note the passing of behind-the-scenes ABQ political player Lino Martinez. The Rio Arriba County native was a get-out-the-vote expert of the old school variety whose family says participated in every state election of the past 60 years as a volunteer, candidate or elected official. His understanding of La Politica and determination to be on the winning side benefited a number of hopefuls including ABQ Mayor Ken Schultz who served in the 80's. Lino Martinez was 85. His full obituary is here

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