Gov. Susana Martinez said that she is speaking with legislators from both parties about a possible special session.The special session would be to pass capital outlay legislation, which pays for public infrastructure projects throughout the state.
From Albuquerque Business First:
“We have certainly been in conversations with representatives and senators from both sides of the aisle,” Martinez said. “We want to be able to come to a consensus and some agreement before we even decide whether or not we want to have a special session because it costs $50,000 a day to have the special session and we don’t want to go in there and not have these conversations and then end up with nothing, or something worse, so we are talking with leadership.”
Martinez said her office had contacted Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, but had not spoke to him.
Sanchez has been a thorn in the side of Martinez for her entire time in office. Republicans in the House have criticized the way he runs the Senate, saying he unfairly blocks Martinez’s priorities.
The Senate passed a version of capital outlay by a 40-0 vote. The day before the end of the session, the House made extensive changes to capital outlay in the House Ways and Means Committee.
Then the House passed the legislation on a party-line vote just minutes before the end of the session. By the time the clock hit noon, capital outlay never was heard on the Senate floor.
Since then, Democrats and Republicans have been assigning blame over the failure of capital outlay.
Senate Democrats, and business groups, have been calling for a special session to pass capital outlay. In her post-session press conference, Martinez said she had no plans at the time to call for a special session.
However, the pressure for a special session hasn’t stopped.
Lt. Gov. John Sanchez spoke to the Roswell Daily Record on Tuesday.
“I think right now we’re working through some of the details and trying to negotiate with Senate Democrat leaders to try to strike a deal so that if we come up, we don’t waste tax dollars in a lengthy special session that we don’t accomplish anything,” Sanchez said. “I believe that we can come into Santa Fe one day. By the way, the typical cost for one day of opening the session is about $50,000.”
Senate Democrats opposed changes by the House, including the use of the bond money (capital outlay is paid for by severance tax bonds) for highway projects. Many House Democrats had similar objections.
Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, is a fiscal conservative and opposes the use of bond money for road projects. He had proposed a ten cent increase to the gas tax, which has not been increased since the last Bruce King administration, to pay for road projects.
That proposal went nowhere this year, though Martinez said, according to Business First, that her office has spoken to Smith about a possible special session.
Democrats, in both chambers, also pointed towards the elimination of money for many projects at senior centers and colleges throughout the state.
House Republicans said that the Senate Democrats walked away from negotiations and say they are to blame for the bill’s failure.