April 24, 2017

Date set for oral arguments in Legislature’s suit against Guv


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The New Mexico Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments in the lawsuit filed by the state Legislature against Gov. Susana Martinez over some line-item vetoes she made to the state budget.

The oral arguments will take place May 15 at 9 a.m. Ahead of this, the court ordered the governor’s office to submit a response to the suit by May 5. The Legislature will be allowed to file a reply by May 10.

Also, the court asked the New Mexico Council of University Presidents to file a brief as part of the lawsuit by May 5.

At issues are two large line-item vetoes Martinez made to the budget, one cutting the entire higher education budget and the other cutting the entire budget of the Legislature. This would impact the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The Legislature filed the suit last week and argued the cuts violated the state constitution.

A spokesman for the governor told NM Political Report the suit was just a way for the Legislature to raise taxes.

“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,” Michael Lonergan said.

The governor has yet to set a date on any special session.

Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, said the lawsuit was a way “to check the power of the executive and protect against any overreach on behalf of those we represent.”

Speaker of the House Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said the vetoes were unconstitutional and “have added unneeded stress to students who attend these schools and families who hope to send their children to college in New Mexico.”

The Legislative Council voted to file the suit earlier this month, though the vote took place behind closed doors and they declined to say which members of the bicameral, bipartisan 16-member council voted to approve the lawsuit.

The legislators also asked the council’s director to begin collecting signatures for a possible extraordinary session.

  Order Requesting Response-Setting Oral Arguments by New Mexico Political Report on Scribd