Democratic lawmakers felt the brunt of Gov. Susana Martinez’s 42 capital outlay project vetoes, with 27 of those projects sponsored solely by Democrats. But Martinez did veto some GOP projects, including three Albuquerque projects advocated by House Majority Leader Nate Gentry. A key aspect of the capital outlay appropriation process involves lawmakers recommending local projects on behalf of their constituents. Only a fraction of the projects make it into the bill, when legislators must choose how to allocate their share of the bond money. The $294 million bill included $84 million for lawmaker projects, divided equally between the House and Senate, then divided equally between the lawmakers in each body.
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.
Gov. Susana Martinez signed a nearly $300-million capital outlay bill on Wednesday that passed during a special legislative session last week after it failed to pass during the regular session earlier this year. Martinez was in Las Cruces, the latest stop in her tour of the state to promote the three pieces of legislation that passed during the special session. Martinez is also scheduled appear in Santa Teresa today, a day after appearing in Rio Rancho to tout the capital outlay package. Martinez highlighted the passage of funding for highway projects as part of the $294 million package. “Far too many of our roads are dangerous, and they are in dire need of repair.
In the capital outlay bill passed in this week’s brief special legislative session, lawmakers included more than $2 million to work on a major road that would play a big role in proposed development of Albuquerque’s West Side. Specifically, lawmakers granted nearly $1.5 million for an “interchange row” between Paseo del Volcan and I-40 and another $600,000 for rights of way purchase for Paseo del Volcan. Currently, Paseo del Volcan covers just seven miles of Rio Rancho. Yet plans for the major roadway expansion, pictured right, show it stretching all the way down to I-40, going past landmarks of several controversial proposed developments, most notably the Santolina planned community. As New Mexico Political Report previously reported, many of the proponents behind the bypass expansion are also behind Santolina and other West Side developments.
This year’s four-and-a-half-hour special session left many lawmakers praising their own bipartisan efforts to pass three bills including a tax package, capital outlay appropriations and money for courts and health care facilities. While some lawmakers debated the bills and pointed out inadequacies of the legislation, all of the legislation either passed unanimously or by a large majority. When the Legislature announced Sine Die, many lawmakers made their way straight for the doors, but soon after a flurry of press releases were sent out. Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, touted the Capital Outlay bill as a good start to create jobs and keep New Mexican’s employed. “Our main task in the Senate is to serve people and we are doing that today.
The New Mexico Legislature did in four hours what couldn’t be done in 60 days earlier this year: pass legislation to fund infrastructure projects throughout the state, as well as two other bills. While there was some debate among lawmakers, lawmakers easily passed legislation with few dissenting votes. A bill that proved controversial during the regular session was the capital outlay bill. SB 1, sponsored by Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa, aimed to authorize $295 million help pay for about 1,000 projects around New Mexico. After a brief debate, the Senate passed the capital outlay bill in a committee of the whole and shortly thereafter the full Senate .
On the first day of most legislative sessions, the capitol building in Santa Fe is filled with crowds of lawmakers, lobbyists and observers. But the pomp and circumstance of that day was missing Monday morning as the legislature was preparing for a special session, called by Gov. Susana Martinez just three days before. Instead of special interest groups holding rallies, the rotunda was quiet except for the occasional tour group admiring the architecture of the Roundhouse and the many pieces of artwork adorning its walls. Also noticeably absent were the many lobbyists that walk through the hallways trying to catch the ears of lawmakers. Instead, the hallways were peppered with staff members and the occasional legislator casually preparing for a day of discussions and votes.