Legislative analysis shows ‘technical error’ in tax overhaul could have cost state big

If it had passed in its original form, the tax overhaul supported by the governor and legislative Republicans during the recent special session would have hurt the state. That’s the news from the finalized fiscal impact analysis done by staffers with the Legislative Finance Committee, first flagged by the Albuquerque Journal. According to the analysis, a technical error on the part of the bill’s drafters threw off revenue estimates by more than $100 million. The error had to do with the repeal of a nonprofit receipts exemption that applies to nonprofit organizations, including hospitals. The bill itself was finalized shortly before the special session began and was introduced hours after the special session came to order.

NM GOP remembers communication director Keene

Tragedy struck the Republican Party of New Mexico as their young communications director passed away. Tucker Keene, 25, had been the communications director of the state party since January of 2016. Party chairman Ryan Cangiolosi announced the news in an email Monday morning. “It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I write to inform you of the sudden passing of our dear friend and colleague W. Tucker Keene,” Cangiolosi wrote. “He was a brilliant writer, tenacious promoter of our cause, keen political communicator and most importantly, a wonderful person,” Cangiolosi continued.

Miera to run for lieutenant governor

Former House Majority Leader Rick Miera announced Monday that he will run for lieutenant governor. The Albuquerque Democrat is the second to announce a run for the position. “I am running for Lt. Governor because New Mexicans deserve leaders who have the courage to make the bold decisions we need that will get our state moving again,” Miera said in a statement announcing his candidacy. The position’s biggest responsibility is to preside over the state senate. In the event of a tie vote in the Senate, the lieutenant governor will cast a vote, something that very rarely occurs.

It’s not your imagination: NM has slow internet

If you’re reading this from New Mexico (odds are, since we write about New Mexico news, you are) this page probably took longer to load than it would have in just about any other state. It isn’t anything we’re doing. Rather, New Mexico has the second-slowest internet speed of any state—barely ahead of Idaho and lagging far behind Washington D.C.

Those numbers come from Akamai’s quarterly State of the Internet Report. The average internet speed in the United States is 18.7 Megabits per second (Mbps). New Mexico’s average internet speed is just 12.4 Mbps.

Guv’s communication director leaves administration

The governor’s top communications official left the administration. The Associated Press first reported that Chris Sanchez left his position as communications director in Gov. Susana Martinez’s office for an out-of-state job. Thursday, Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera said she would be leaving her job later this month. Martinez is in her final term in office

Sanchez, who was the second-highest paid communications employee in the state, will be replaced by Larry Behrens. Behrens worked as spokesman for the state Public Education Department and the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

Heinrich questions Comey on Russia, meeting with Trump

Sen. Martin Heinrich played a central role during Thursday’s  committee hearing with former FBI Director James Comey. The landmark Senate Intelligence Committee hearing received wall-to-wall coverage on news stations across the political spectrum. A day before, current Trump intelligence officials testified in front of the same committee. Heinrich slammed those officials for their refusal to answer questions from the Senators. In the hearing, Comey testified about President Donald Trump firing him, the FBI investigations into those around Trump and his thoughts on former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s involvement in the investigation into Clinton’s emails.

Skandera to leave PED

New Mexico’s Secretary of Education will step down from her position later this month. That’s the report from the Albuquerque Journal Thursday morning, which spoke to Skandera. Skandera told the newspaper that she will leave her post on June 20, after more than six years on the job. Skandera has been the only head of the Public Education Department under Susana Martinez. In that time, Skandera has been a controversial figure, with teachers unions and Democrats voicing sharp criticisms of her priorities.

Berry to attend Trump infrastructure summit

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry is headed to Washington. The mayor’s office announced Wednesday that Berry, a Republican, will meet with the Donald Trump administration to discuss an infrastructure plan. The mayor’s office said that the administration “hand-picked” the attendees of the summit. Municipal elected officials and governors will reportedly meet with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, among other members of the Trump administration. NM Political Report reached out to the office of Gov. Susana Martinez to ask if she would be attending the summit.

Ranking puts NM’s economy near the bottom

New Mexico’s economy is near the bottom of the barrel according to a recent ranking. WalletHub listed New Mexico’s economy as 40th among all states and Washington D.C., as the state ranked dead-last in economic health, largely because of the nation’s highest unemployment rate of 6.7 percent. New Mexico also ranked last in the average educational attainment of recent immigrants. But New Mexico ranked second in the highest percentage of jobs in high-tech industries, only trailing Massachusetts. That high-tech industry jobs category helped New Mexico rank 16th in innovation potential, one of the three main categories averaged together for a final score—alongside economic activity and economic health.

Legislature sues governor, says ten vetoes are invalid

The Legislature asked a state district court Monday to invalidate 10 vetoes by Gov. Susana Martinez of bills state lawmakers passed during this year’s regular session. The petition filed with the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe came after the Legislative Council voted to approve it earlier this year. A spokesman for the governor said the legal challenge is “another example of out-of-touch Santa Fe trial lawyers wasting time and taxpayer money going to court when they don’t get what they want.”

Democrats say Martinez violated the state constitution by not explaining why she vetoed the 10 bills. The complaint describes the two categories of vetoes:  Half of the bills were vetoed within three days after being presented to the governor. But the governor did not include her “objections” as required  by the state constitution.