SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – After two days at the Roundhouse, a new budget and revenue package has been sent to Gov. Martinez.
Lawmakers could have ended the special session Thursday, but they’re pushing it into next week in a move that puts pressure on the governor to act quickly.
Four bills are now on Gov. Martinez’s desk, and while two of them do propose tax hikes, Republicans say they’re satisfied.
“We’re very pleased the governor exercised her prerogative and vetoed a portion of the budget and as a result of that we were able to get a much better budget,” said House Minority Leader Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque.
The bills now headed to the governor include one that restores funding to higher education and the legislature, which she had line-item vetoed during the regular session. Another bill pulls from capital outlay and puts money in the general fund — a compromise for Democrats.
These two are enough to balance the budget, but Dems worry the state’s bond rating will drop if reserves aren’t replenished. So, they passed two more bills that would raise taxes on party line votes.
“The legislature, both Senate and House, sent with a combination of those bills, what we believe is financially responsible, which will preserve our reputation of being frugal with the dollar,” said Sen. John Arthur Smith.
Having a staunch take against taxes, the governor has made it clear she instead wanted a tax code overhaul.
One representative did attempt a tax reform during this special session, but it was tabled in a committee Thursday morning.
The governor has three days to act on the legislation passed now on her desk.
Thursday, the governor issued the following statement:
If lawmakers decided to end the special session Thursday, then the governor would have had 20 days to act. Legislators on both sides are refusing their per-diems over the weekend.
Overall, I’m pleased that we were able to come to an agreement on the budget. In a bipartisan manner, lawmakers passed my plan to put more funding toward cancer research and student financial aid, while at the same time forfeiting their pork projects and a small portion of their personal legislative retirement accounts to fill the budget hole — something I’ve urged them to do for months. We started this budget process at the beginning of the year with the Democrats insisting that nothing short of massive tax increases would solve our budget problems and that has proven not to be the case.
Just as with any legislative session, no one got everything they wanted. For example, I’m disappointed that Democrat lawmakers resorted to passing more tax hikes instead of having the courage to pursue comprehensive tax reform that would allow families to keep more of what they earn and dramatically help the state by providing more stable revenue.
Let me be clear: I will veto all tax increases that hit my desk. The legislative leadership knew that from the beginning and chose to pass these tax hikes regardless.
At the end of the day, our agreement shows a willingness to come together and compromise and do the work the people deserve. Unfortunately, the legislature chose not to tackle the tougher challenges and I hope they will have the courage to do so in the future. – Gov. Susana Martinez