June 17, 2015

Martinez signs nearly $300 million capital outlay bill (updated)

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Flanked by members of her staff, Gov. Susana Martinez delivers statements to members of the press following the 2015 regular session of the state Legislature. Photo Credit: Margaret Wright

Gov. Susana Martinez signed a nearly $300-million capital outlay bill on Wednesday that passed during a special legislative session last week after it failed to pass during the regular session earlier this year.

Flanked by members of her staff, Gov. Susana Martinez delivers statements to members of the press following the 2015 regular session of the state Legislature.  Photo Credit: Margaret Wright

Flanked by members of her staff, Gov. Susana Martinez delivers statements to members of the press following the 2015 regular session of the state Legislature.
Photo Credit: Margaret Wright

Martinez was in Las Cruces, the latest stop in her tour of the state to promote the three pieces of legislation that passed during the special session. Martinez is also scheduled appear in Santa Teresa today, a day after appearing in Rio Rancho to tout the capital outlay package.

Martinez highlighted the passage of funding for highway projects as part of the $294 million package.

“Far too many of our roads are dangerous, and they are in dire need of repair. By signing this legislation, we will not only make our roads and highways safer for our families, but we will also create jobs and help lay the groundwork to continue growing our economy,” Martinez said in a statement. “Our roads and highways serve as the literal foundation for commerce. When we invest in major highway projects, we are creating jobs and making it easier to develop and grow our economy.”

In all, $70 million went towards highways and roads, $45 million of which the release said were “major, critical highway infrastructure projects.”

Martinez also highlighted the $12.5 million that went towards funding for the Local Economic Development Act, known as the closing fund.

But the main course when it comes to capital outlay legislation is infrastructure.

“When we invest in infrastructure, we create jobs — lots of them — in every corner of the state,” Martinez said. “And we achieve critical, lasting objectives. That’s exactly what this capital outlay bill aims to do.”

Martinez’s release on the capital outlay bill said that she vetoed $1.1 million in projects, though the specific line-item vetoes have not been released as of yet. New Mexico Political Report has reached out to Martinez’s office to see which projects were victims of her veto pen.

The failure to pass a capital outlay bill became the defining moment of this year’s regular session, capping off a session of acrimony between the House and Senate. What exactly happened to stop the legislation from passing before the Legislature adjourned sine die still is not known, but the drumbeat of calls for a special session started immediately after the end of the 60-day session.

Martinez said at first that she had no plans to call a special session, though later softened her stance but still said she would only call a special session if a deal was reached between leadership in the House and Senate and her office so the special session would be as short as possible.

The special session took place last Monday and lasted less than six hours.

After a deadline that most thought was the final deadline came and went, it appeared there would be no capital outlay funding htis year. Only actions by the state Board of Finance made a special session for capital outlay possible.

In addition to the bill for capital outlay funding, Martinez signed the other two pieces of legislation that passed during the brief special session. The feed bill, which paid for the special session, included funds for the Administrative Office of the Courts and the state Department of Health. A tax package that Martinez signed earlier this week included more tax credits and cuts, which Martinez said will help create jobs in the state.

“Governor Martinez enacted a capital outlay bill that funds the necessary infrastructure projects, which will lay a foundation for a moving economy driven by small business,” Chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico Debbie Maestas said in a statement.” By closely scrutinizing the legislation, the Governor and Republican legislators ensured that New Mexico’s tax dollars would not go to waste. Today was a good step forward for New Mexico.”

This post will be updated with more details on the final bill as well as more responses to Martinez’s signing of the legislation.

Update: Here is the governor’s executive message on the bill.

In it, Martinez explained how she determined which projects to veto.

In deciding whether to sign or veto projects, I balanced various features of each project (given the information to which I had access) against a set of criteria that should guide the use of capital outlay funds. Let me be clear: every project in this legislation likely has merit. A line-item veto does not indicate my feelings toward the worth or value of the project.

However, though less than in previous years, there were still some local projects that faced serious deficiencies. In some cases, the project was not shovel ready, or it was so badly underfunded that the money could not be spent. There were also some projects that sought to use bonds to pay off debts, which is an inappropriate use of this funding. In other cases, some projects aimed to use 10-year bonds for items that will not serve a public use for that amount of time. As I have in the past, I have objected to the use of infrastructure bonds for things like musical instruments and dance mats. There were also projects that, when asked, the community officials or other entities in charge of spending the dollars, said they did not need or could not use the money.

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