Senate Democrats said a deal on capital outlay legislation is near and a legislators could be headed back to Santa Fe to pass the infrastructure funding bill.
The deal was made based on discussions between Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, who served as the Democrats’ chief negotiator, and Speaker of the House Don Tripp, R-Socorro, according to Demcorats.
“The package restores funding to senior centers, higher education institutions, and tribal communities,” a release from the Senate majority said. “The package also contains a compromise on highway funding.”
“The package was developed as a result of discussions with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and after listening to the needs of local communities, businesses, and tribal groups,” the statement continues. The statement says it would create an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 new jobs in the state.
Democrats in both the House and Senate had criticized the cuts to funding for senior centers and other areas for things like highway funding and a new hangar at Spaceport America.
Smith has long opposed using bonds to pay for highways and says the money should come from operational money instead of borrowing money using bonds.
Capital outlay legislation handily passed the Senate without a dissenting vote, but ran into opposition in the House when House Republicans drastically changed the bill with a day left in the session. The House then passed the capital outlay legislation with just 15 minutes to go in the session and it was never heard on the Senate side before they adjourned sine die.
House Ways and Means Committee chairman Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, said that Democrats had left the bargaining table on capital outlay legislation before the end of the session.
Since the session ended, members of both parties have been pointing figures for who was to blame for the failure to pass capital outlay legislation.
It is up to Gov. Susana Martinez to call for a special session—and other items besides capital outlay may be on the agenda. One notable thing that was not mentioned in the Senate Democrats’ release was a package of tax cuts that failed to pass the Senate in the dying moments, thanks to a filibuster by Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque.
Business groups have been pushing for a special session for not only capital outlay but also that tax package.
Immediately following the session, Martinez said that she had no plans on calling a special session. However, she softened her position in recent weeks to say that she would call for a special session if a deal could be reached.
Post updated to clarify Senate Democrats claimed there was a deal but House GOP said there was none.