May 30, 2017

Legislators end special session without veto override attempts

Without much drama or even an attempt to override Gov. Susana Martinez’s vetoes of tax increases, legislators ended a special session where a budget deal became law.

The legislators in both chambers came to order around 1 p.m. on Tuesday after recessing ahead of the holiday weekend. The legislators recessed last Thursday rather than adjourn after passing bills related to the budget and taxes. Staying in session while recessed meant Martinez had to make a decision on legislation to three days instead of 20 days.

Martinez ultimately signed legislation on Friday reinstating funding for higher education and the state Legislature, both of which she vetoed entirely after the regular Legislative session earlier this year. But she also vetoed a bill that would have raised some taxes for new revenue and line-item vetoed parts of a bill that will essentially borrow infrastructure money from the future to spend now to balance the budget.

On Tuesday, the legislators held roll call, prayed, did recited the Pledge of Allegiance and the Pledge to the New Mexico State Flag.

Democratic Senators then criticized some of the vetoes Martinez made with revenue increases while praising the return of funds for higher education. State Senate Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, said the vetoes could put New Mexico’s credit ratings at risk of a downgrade.

“I hope none of us here think that we’re safe,” Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, said. “The train’s back on the tracks, but I don’t think we know if the bridge is still out in front of us.”

Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, criticized the use of bond money to balance the budget, and said the Legislature did so at the governor’s request.

“She’ll be back next year with the same request. That is not responsible financing of state government,” Smith said.

Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, said the legislators came to an agreement, and noted it wasn’t something everyone liked.

“We must remember here that we are all a part of government and work together and we never get everything we want it to be,” Ingle said.

And after less than half an hour in session, the senate adjourned sine die and joined their House colleagues in heading home.