SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) — Less than six weeks before the election, lawmakers are in Santa Fe working instead of campaigning.
They’re trying to find nearly $600 million to fix a huge budget shortfall, but the governor also wants them to crack down on criminals while they’re at it.
There are two big issues being considered during this special session. Lawmakers are looking to find hundreds of millions of dollars to shore up a budget that’s been hammered by low oil and gas prices and a bad state economy.
A solution to that huge problem is still being negotiated with democrats worried about cuts being too harsh and republicans unwilling to hike taxes.
While that’s being hashed out, the governor is asking lawmakers to reinstate the death penalty and up penalties on repeat offenders and killers who target kids.
Those bills were heard in committee Friday afternoon, where a number of victims’ families were on hand. Democrats have called that a distraction from the budget crisis, and an issue best left for the regular session in January.
“They are going to try and ram this through playing the worst kind of politics with people’s fear, with people’s emotion with people’s grief politics with people’s sorrow. It’s shameful,” said Rep. Brian Egolf.
“Right now we’re pleading with our legislators to take a vote, make a stand for our victims instead of the criminals,” said Nicole Chavez-Silver, mother of Jaydon Chavez-Silver who was murdered last year.
Those crime proposals could very well die in the state senate.
Republicans are trying to win control of that chamber in November. Democrats meanwhile are trying to regain control of the house, which republicans won two years ago.
It’s unclear how long the special session will last. Each day costs taxpayers about $50,000.
A slain Albuquerque bartender’s widow says she supports the governor’s push to address crime during the special session.
“With all of the things that have happened so far this year, I believe that Governor Martinez feels that this is just getting ridiculous, so I understand her trying to bring about some change,” said Vinnie Gerecke.
Police say Vinnie Gerecke’s husband, Steven, was gunned down by a group of teens on a late-night burglary spree last year.
Back in February she fought for a teen curfew, under a bill named “Stevie’s law.” It was tabled in the senate.