The New Mexico Legislature filed a lawsuit against Gov. Susana Martinez Friday morning. The suit accuses Martinez of violating the state constitution when she vetoed the entirety of the budgets for the state Legislature and all higher education in New Mexico. Filed by the Legislative Council’s lawyer Tom Hnasko, the lawsuit calls the line-item veto of legislative funding an “attempt to eviscerate the ability of the other branch [of government] to perform its essential functions.”
In his filing, Hnsako asks the court to invalidate Martinez’s line-item vetoes of both the Legislature and higher education. “They’re suing the Governor because they want to raise taxes, and she’s the only one standing in their way,” Martinez spokesman Michael Lonergan said in a statement. “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.
State budget troubles are prompting the New Mexico Higher Education Department to make cuts to a program local students use to attend colleges in nearby states for programs not offered at home. New Mexico pays into the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE) Professional Student Exchange Program that allows local students to go to dentistry and veterinary schools outside of the state at a reduced rate. To qualify for the loan for service, students must sign a declaration of intent to return to and work in New Mexico once they finish school. Currently, 67 students from New Mexico benefit from the WICHE exchange program. By next fall, that number will drop by six students.
The New Mexico Legislative Council voted to sue Gov. Susana Martinez over some of her controversial budget vetoes and is planning for an extremely rare extraordinary session. “Following the legal briefing given by attorneys to the Legislature, the Legislative Council has made the decision to officially begin the legal process necessary to ensure the state constitution is upheld,” Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen said in a statement. “As legislators we take our oath to support the constitution and the laws of the state seriously. A strong system of checks and balances is crucial to the success of our democracy.”
It’s unclear how individual members voted. Democrats hold a 9-7 advantage on the panel, which is made up of members of both chambers.
Even the woman in charge of higher education in New Mexico didn’t have input on the governor’s veto of the entire higher education budget. Higher Education Department Secretary Barbara Damron said Gov. Susana Martinez did not consult with her before making the vetoes, according to the Albuquerque Journal. Damron made the remarks in a speech to the Economic Forum of Albuquerque this week. The governor vetoed the entire higher education budget, saying it was necessary to balance the budget, which became unbalanced when she vetoed a package that would have raised some taxes and fees. Martinez said the higher education budget could be solved in a special session.
A progressive group is advocating for legislators to override Gov. Susana Martinez’s vetoes of portions of the budget and an entire tax package. The odds of veto overrides are slim. The bills passed the Senate with wide, bipartisan support but passed more narrowly on party lines in the House. New Mexico Voices for Children urged supporters to contact their legislators to override the vetoes, citing the zeroing-out of the entire higher education budget. “New Mexico’s legislators delivered a balanced budget that funds critical services like education, health care, and public safety, and they came up with a responsible way to pay for it,” the email says.
A new poll examining the job approval ratings of every governor and U.S. senator showed Gov. Susana Martinez near the bottom of the rankings and both of the state’s senators at mid-pack. That poll comes from Morning Consult, a website that regularly releases polls, most notably on President Donald Trump’s approval ratings, and is the website’s first approval ratings poll since the 2016 general election. The Morning Consult poll showed 43 percent of New Mexican registered voters approve of Martinez’s job performance while 48 percent disapprove. Martinez ranks 41st in approval ratings among governors. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster was not included in the rankings because he took over for Nikki Haley, who is the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Gov. Susana Martinez continued her criticism of the state Legislature in a brief press conference Monday in Las Cruces. Martinez appeared with Rep. Rick Little, R-Chaparral, and praised his work during the legislative session while at the same time criticizing the Legislature as a whole and the Senate specifically. Martinez echoed her previous criticisms of legislation that would have raised some taxes. “Raising taxes to bail out big government while punishing the families of New Mexico is not the right answer. Or raising taxes on small businesses is not the right answer,” Martinez said.
As we reported on Friday, Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed the Next Generation Science Standards Act. In her message, she wrote that “the Public Education Department has already been working diligently to route the standards through the appropriate vetting process.” The governor also argued the standards don’t belong in statute because it would “make it more difficult to update science standards in response to scientific advancement in the future.”
As Matt Grubs wrote in the Santa Fe Reporter, that bill would have required the state to adopt updated, nationally-vetted benchmarks for teaching science in public schools. As Grubs wrote last week: Supporters, like bill sponsor Rep. Andrés Romero, D-Albuquerque, agree that it’s better to let the PED change standards administratively. But no one from the state’s education agency has explained the delay in putting the NGSS into place. In 18 other states and Washington, DC, the most controversial issues surrounding Next Gen adoption have been human-caused climate change and the theory of evolution.
Earlier this month the American journey to inclusion, equality and justice suffered yet another instance of obstruction and resistance with Gov. Susana Martinez’s veto of legalization aimed to eradicate institutionalized racism (SB 269) beginning with state agencies. The perspective, in regards to the existence and effects of race in both the state and the nation, held by Martinez and New Mexican conservatives along with many influenced by their leadership, is utterly amazing. It only works to heighten animosity. The task of undoing racism is not a task New Mexicans are incapable of accomplishing but rather undoing racism is a task New Mexicans are unwilling to do. This insistent denial and attitude of superiority is crippling any genuine progression of equality within humanity, specifically in these United States of America.
Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed a bill to create a speciality chile license plate—but chile lovers will still be able to get a license plate featuring chile without the extra cost of a specialty plate. The new black license plate says in yellow lettering “Chile capital of the world” and has yellow license plate numbers. It also features a green chile pepper in front of a red chile pepper. “With the creation of this license plate, we are sending a strong message that New Mexico is the only chile capital of the world,” Gov. Martinez said in announcing the new license plate. “Not only does chile play a significant role in our state’s culture – it is one of our state’s greatest treasures, and this license plate will let the world know.”
This came after Martinez vetoed legislation that would have created a specialty chile license plate whose funds would have went to educational programs with the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces.