New Mexico Legislature sues governor in escalating conflict

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Democrat-controlled New Mexico Legislature is suing Republican Gov. Susana Martinez over her budget vetoes, claiming she has effectively eliminated the legislative branch.

Read the lawsuit here » 

The lawsuit filed Friday asks the state Supreme Court to hear the case immediately.

It’s the latest volley in a battle over how to fix the state’s financial crisis.

The Democrat-led legislature petitioned the New Mexico Supreme Court on Friday to block vetoes that “would seek to defund and thereby effectively abolish the legislative branch of government.”

Democrats in the legislature are asking the state Supreme Court if the Republican governor has the authority to reject funding for an equal branch of government and for universities protected by the state’s constitution.

The lawsuit states “the governor’s actions violate the New Mexico constitution’s principles of separation of powers.”

Gov. Martinez says the removal of funding is only temporary and that it can be restored through a budget compromise that doesn’t include any tax hikes.

The court challenge is an escalation in the budget standoff.

“This governor’s actions have been unpredictable and also unreasonable. So it is hard to say how she is going to react to this, but I encourage the governor to stop playing political games with the future of all our college and university students,” said state Senator and Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla.

The legislature is also asking the state Supreme Court to reinstate the vetoed items in the budget, and direct her finance secretary to implement the budget passed by the legislature.

No date has been set by the Supreme Court to hear this suit.

Friday afternoon, Michael Lonergan from the governor’s office released the following statement:

They’re suing the Governor because they want to raise taxes, and she’s the only one standing in their way. It’s disappointing because it shows a refusal to compromise as this is nothing but an attempt to bully her by short-circuiting the legislative process before a special session. Regardless, the Governor will keep fighting for our families.

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