Friday, May 26, 2017

Winners And Losers Of Special Session '17 And More La Politica  

Speaker Egolf
Special Legislative Session '17 will trickle into next Tuesday but the precarious budget deal is done.  Gov. Martinez is signaling she is satisfied with the budget sent to her because she can sign it without authorizing any of the tax increases approved by the Democratic majority,  although not doing so may send the state's cash reserves perilously low in the months ahead.

(AP coverage here, New Mexican coverage here and Journal coverage here.)

The Tuesday session is expected to last all of a couple of hours, so with the heavy lifting done who were the winners and losers of Special Session '17? We're glad you asked:

WINNER--State House Speaker Brian Egolf. He laid down the law at the get-go, declaring that the gross receipts overhaul bill so dear to the Governor was dead on arrival. He added that he expected the special session to last 24 hours which it basically did. And he made sure the Governor was again sent revenue raising measures that she vetoed in the regular session and thus forced the special session.

Egolf was accused of being squishy in his maiden outing as speaker in January. But his backbone has stiffened since. He now appears to realize the broad powers this new position gives him. He seems more comfortable assuming those powers and that paid off for him as he came across cool and confident and won the respect of his caucus as well as the Republicans and Governor.

LOSER--Rio Rancho GOP Rep. Jason Harper has become a household name among the insiders of La Politica as his bill to reform the state's gross receipts tax structure garners the headlines. But Democratic lawmakers had enough of the measure which ran over 400 pages and the experts said was still incomplete because no one could say what impact it would have on state revenues. Harper kept pushing (along with the governor) and it cast him in a more partisan light. Speaker Egolf agreed to $400,000 to further study the plan but if the Democrats are going to win back the economic narrative they need to come with their own reform bill and with a name from their own party on it. Harper had his day.

WINNER AND LOSER--Gov. Martinez ended up a winner when the Legislature sent her a $6.1 billion budget she could sign while still vetoing a tax hike package. She gets to keep her bragging rights of never raising taxes. But she gets labeled a loser for pushing a widely critiqued plan to effectively borrow over $70 million in bond money to balance the budget--money that will now have to be paid back.

The amount of tax increases needed was piddling but by refusing to endorse any, Martinez forced lawmakers into the borrowing scheme which sets a terrible precedent because future Governors could now use the same trick. It was an abandonment of conservative financial principles she and the GOP loudly claim they prize. Hopefully, state revenues will pop up and the plan will not have to be executed.

WINNER--ABQ GOP State Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes abandoned the Governor and her party on several key budget votes and ends up on the winners list for doing so. Barnes represents a key swing district in ABQ's NE Heights. If she had stuck with GOP orthodoxy she could have taken on major baggage to be exploited by a Democratic rival. Her votes give her a lot of insurance going into the '18 cycle.

WINNER--Former NM Governor and current NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers appeared before the legislature and prodded lawmakers into undoing Gov. Martinez's veto of the entire higher education budget. They responded in bipartisan fashion, showing that there are still a few leaders who wield moral authority in these divided times.


We blogged this week that three were no announced Dem candidates to run against GOP Congressman Steve Pearce, but a number of readers pointed out there apparently are:

Ron Fitzherbert~ Health Care Clinic Compliance Office; Madeline "Mad" Hildebrandt~ College Instructor, Coast Guard Veteran

Okay, but that doesn't sound like major threatsto Steve. What else you got, Dems?

And reader John Dyrcz writes:

I definitely raised my eyebrows when I saw the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) was again targeting NM's CD-2, but how many times have we heard that refrain? You note in 2014 Roxanne Lara's campaign ended in "disaster," but I wouldn't use that word. Rocky did everything asked of her in that campaign -- raising about $1.8 million dollars, going up on television, and jumping through every other hoop the DCCC put in front of her -- in short, she was a serious candidate by any measure and also a Democrat who fit the district, despite receiving little support from the DPNM. The trouble with the DCCC is their support is often fleeting, and despite all of their promises to up-and-coming candidates, they can reverse course and pull out all resources at a moments notice. (They did the same in 2010 with then-Congressman Teague.) There are plenty of good candidates in CD-2, but I think there is a real fatigue with the DCCC's perpetual lip service.


Reader Eric Lucero is off to the movies this weekend and he says "Norman" is his top pick:

The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (R) ***1/2 Stars out of 5.  Richard Gere, you could say, has been waiting a lifetime for this transitional role. Retrograde back to his earlier conflicted roles; American Gigolo (1980), or An Officer and A Gentleman (1982); then advance the clock to his clearly honed, sharpened Billy Flynn role in Chicago (2002); advance now, to his titular portrayal of Norman Oppenheimer- a very flawed, dated, lonely, yet fiercely loyal Jewish New Yorker hustler.
Gere plays Norman with panache, audacity, and with a believable emotive mendacity! The supporting cast is notable and outstanding! Norman is a gem! Israeli writer/director Joseph Cedar (Beaufort & Footnote) adeptly rolls out Norman’s later life & times in three dramatic & dialog heavy acts. What you will find most satisfying about Norman’s descent, is that despite his tragic fall, he both manages to exit smelling like a rose and with his honor intact!

Thanks for stopping by this week.

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