Gov. Susana Martinez signed capital outlay legislation that funded nearly $300 million for infrastructure and other projects on Wednesday, though she did make some cuts.
In all, Martinez used her line-item veto authority to cut 41 programs from counties around the state and one statewide project.
Martinez vetoed around $1.1 million in funding. She explained her decision-making process, somewhat, in her executive message on the bill where she outlined the vetoes:
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.
Martinez also praised “those local delegations of legislators who pool their requests for capital outlay dollars in order to complete larger, more regional projects that local communities would have a difficult time funding themselves.”
Martinez wrote she would like to see more of this in the future.
The projects that had their funding vetoed ranged from $1,000 at the Questa Veterans Memorial, the smallest requested allotment of funds in the entire bill, to $120,000 for a Crownpoint Chapter Wellness Center. None of the projects were even close to the top-ten projects in the bill in terms of cost.
Martinez highlighted the largest project of the legislation, the Meadows long-term care facility at the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas.
All of the projects that Martinez vetoed would have been funded through severance tax bonds, not the general fund or any of the other funds that made up portions of the massive infrastructure bill.
Martinez largely did not explain the vetoes in depth, though she did write more in her executive message on the Questa Veterans Memorial line-item veto.
“Instead of using bonds to pay for the etching of names into this veterans’ memorial, which the local community seeks to do, I have instead directed our Department of Veterans Services to provide this money to the community directly for the same purpose,” Martinez wrote.
Here are the top-nine projects (there were multiple projects tied for tenth), by dollar amount, projects that Martinez vetoed, and below that a spreadsheet with all of the projects. The language that was vetoed is also included.
- Crownpoint CHP Wellness Center—$120,000
Pretty straightforward; funding to build a Wellness Center on the Navajo Nation in the Crownpoint chapter..
one hundred twenty thousand dollars ($120,000) to construct a wellness center for the Crownpoint chapter of the Navajo Nation in McKinley county
- Pinedale Chp Administration Bldg—$100,000
The only other six-figure project that was vetoed. In addition to construction, the request asked for funds for furnishing and equipping the building. Like the Crownpoint chapter Wellness Center, this would have been on the Navajo Nation.
one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) to purchase, construct, install, furnish and equip an administration building, including infrastructure, for the Pinedale chapter of the Navajo Nation in McKinley county
- Atrisco Heritage Academy High Schl Rec Improve—$80,000
This was the project that Martinez referred to when she says she vetoed funds for “dance mats.” It was not that simple, as it was funds for building a weight room and other facilities were also vetoed. She could have just vetoed dance mats, as she did in the previous funding request where she allowed it to go forward but vetoed the line “musical instruments and” when it came fo funding for Atrisco Heritage Academy high school.
eighty thousand dollars ($80,000) to plan, design, construct, improve, equip and furnish the facilities and weight rooms, including the purchase and installation of related equipment, dance mats and furniture, at Atrisco Heritage Academy high school in the Albuquerque public school district in Bernalillo county;
- Newcomb Chp Grader—$75,000
seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000) to purchase a grader for the Newcomb chapter of the Navajo Nation in San Juan county;
- Manuelito Chp Road Grader—$60,000
These were two of the three road graders that areas wanted funding from the capital outlay funding for. All three were line-item vetoed by Martinez. Again, these two are from the Navajo Nation; four of the top-five vetoed projects were projects requested by the Navajo Nation.
sixty thousand dollars ($60,000) to purchase a road grader for the Manuelito chapter of the Navajo Nation in McKinley county;
- Health Sciences Acad Medical Robotics Prgm Equip—$50,000
The Santa Teresa area received a big amount of capital outlay funding for roads in the area. The large trucks that drive in the area have torn up the roads. But the area didn’t get everything. The funding for equipment for a medical robotics program for the Health Sciences Academy, a charter school in Santa Teresa, was vetoed by Martinez.
fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) to plan,
design, purchase and install equipment for a medical robotics
program at Health Sciences Academy charter school in Santa
Teresa in Dona Ana county;
- Wilhite Rd Improvements Clovis—$50,000
Clovis mayor David Lansford said that the Wilhite Street read project “is in the design phase and we hope to begin construction by 2016” and said “it all boils down to funding.” This $50,000 in funding, at least, will not be on its way to Curry County.
fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) to plan, design and construct improvements to Wilhite road from Prince street to Norris street, including bike paths, sidewalks, lighting, signals, signage and accessibility improvements, in Clovis in Curry county;
- Ramah CHP Section 21 Govt Facilities Site—$50,000
Another project on the Navajo Nation that fell to Martinez’s veto pen; this time in the Ramah chapter in Cibola county.
fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) to plan and design the section 21 government facilities site in the Ramah chapter of the Navajo Nation in Cibola county;
- San Ysidro Water System Pay Back Loan—$45,000
As Martinez said in her executive message, she does not believe that using severance tax bonds is the correct way to repay debt on loans. While Martinez kept funding for water projects for La Asosiacion de Agua de los Brazos in Rio Arriba and design and construction for the west Puerto de Luna acequia in Guadalupe County, line-item vetoed language that said the money could go towards paying a loan.
forty-five thousand dollars ($45,000) to pay back a loan for water system improvements for San Ysidro in Sandoval county;