Gov. vetoes bills on deadline day, including tax increases

Gov Susana Martinez

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The deadline for Gov. Susana Martinez to act on legislation has passed.

The governor has signed or vetoed nearly 170 bills in the last two days, and we now know she’s pocket vetoed 56 bills – meaning, her lack of action automatically vetoed them.

Thursday night, she took action on 50 bills and another 19 on Friday morning.

BUDGET:

The biggest topic of contention has been the budget, which she line-item vetoed Friday by taking out funding for higher education and the legislative branch.

She also vetoed all of lawmakers’ revenue increasing measures, keeping good on her promise not to raise taxes. Those measures included a gas tax hike and an internet sales tax.

Legislators presented her with $350 million in tax increases to plug the state’s budget hole and shore up reserves.

“We need a balanced budget,” Keith Gardner, the Governor’s Chief of Staff said. “July 1 is coming soon and it’s disappointing we don’t have it.”

Gardner says the Governor’s Office has initiated talks with legislators to find a compromise to the budget pre-special session.

“We’re going to try and work together to see if we can find a center point where it protects working New Mexicans, but also provides for government to be able to operate moving forward,” Gardner said.

But Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, says the only talks have been among lawmakers.

“This is not the way to run government, again, we had a bipartisan effort presented to her,” Sen. Wirth said.

Sen. Wirth says the governor has presented no substantial solutions of her own to lawmakers as of yet. For this reason, he says, he expects the special session to be lengthy as the political stalemate between the legislative and executive branch continues.

“She indicated that her goal was to bring us back for one day. I don’t see how that’s possible given the magnitude of what she’s done today with the budget cuts,” Sen. Wirth said.

Before the session started, Gov. Martinez proposed state employees contributing more to their pensions and the state contributing less, but KRQE News 13 is told she has since abandoned that idea.

Instead, KRQE News 13 is told it’s possible she will suggest more cuts to government with the exception of K-12 classroom spending and public safety.

In a statement, Gov. Martinez said when it comes to the budget she cannot recall another time when she’s ever felt lawmakers’ reckless decisions left New Mexico hanging in the balance.

In the upcoming weeks she says will call the legislature back to Santa Fe to finish the job they were supposed to do in the first place.

Special sessions, on average, cost $50,000 a day.

OTHER BILLS:

Gov. Martinez has also kept her promise and vetoed two minimum wage increase bills.

House Bill 442 would have increased the state’s minimum wage from $7.50 per hour to $9.25 per hour. Senate Bill 386 would have increased minimum wage to $9 an hour with a trainee wage of $8 an hour. The governor said an increase would hurt small businesses.

A bill to provide accommodations for pregnant workers and new mothers was also vetoed. Gov. Martinez said women with needs arising from pregnancy are already covered by the current legislation. Additionally, Gov. Martinez encourages business owners to continue to work with pregnant and parenting employees.

Gov. Martinez also vetoed a bill that would have limited statewide school testing days. In her executive message, Gov. Martinez said disrupting students’ test taking time would hurt scores and lead to more school days.

Currently, students can take as much time as they need, which Martinez said only takes up 2 percent of the school year.

KRQE News 13 is working to find out which bills were pocket vetoed.

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