May 14, 2015

Sen. Smith not optimistic about special session deal

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Although “hope springs eternal,” state Sen. John Arthur Smith isn’t optimistic a special session will happen this year.

Roundhouse“As of noon today, we’ve gotten no feedback from the executive branch,” Smith, D-Deming, and a key negotiator to any deal that would bring legislators back to Santa Fe to pass a capital outlay bill, told New Mexico Political Report Wednesday afternoon.

Smith said if legislators can’t strike a deal before a creeping deadline of Monday, May 18, all bets are pretty much off. That’s because New Mexico’s next fiscal year starts July 1, and bond sales for state infrastructure projects need 30 days to advertise before then.

If the legislature approves a new capital outlay late, Smith said the state will lose bond capacity on new projects outlined in a deal.

The state legislature needs a little time before the 30 days to officially approve a deal and get the estimated $290 million worth of “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects going, Smith argued.

“We don’t think we can do that after the 18th,” he said.

The capital outlay bill, which funds new infrastructure projects across the state and is typically approved each year, died in the last days of a 2015 state legislative session dominated by bitter partisan bickering.

Republicans, who control the state House of Representatives and the governor’s office, have said that a $5 million package of tax cuts must be part of any deal for a special session.

Other lawmakers have expressed more confidence over a potential last-minute deal. Earlier this week, both state Reps. Larry Larrañaga, R-Albuquerque, and Luciano “Lucky” Varela, D-Santa Fe, told the Santa Fe New Mexican they were hopeful that a deal would get made.

And last night, KRQE-TV reporter Alex Goldsmith tweeted this:

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New Mexico Political Report reached out to the governor’s office, which didn’t return a call or email about a potential special session deal. We’ll update this post when or if we hear back.

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