Gov. Susana Martinez signed a $6.2 billion state budget into law on Thursday afternoon, with a 1.3 percent spending increase over the previous year’s budget. Martinez praised the budget as responsible and one that invests in job growth. “By keeping our finances in order and ensuring that our budget grows in a stable and reasonable manner, we’re able to move New Mexico forward by growing our economy, keeping our families and children safe, and putting more dollars into the classroom than ever before,” Martinez said in a written statement. In an executive message, Martinez lauded efforts by lawmakers to invest funds to help grow jobs in the private sector. “These are critical dollars that will help us diversify our economy and decrease our reliance on federal spending, which has disproportionately hurt our state.” The governor said she was happy to see many of the education reforms she pushed for funded through the budget.
Gov. Susana Martinez’s rhetoric was unsparing during a press conference following the conclusion of a Legislative session that saw few of her top priorities reach her desk. She employed the word “killed” seven times in her opening statement, referring to the implosion of the statewide capital outlay proposal during the session’s final 48 hours. The failure of that funding measure constituted a “failure of leadership” on the part of Democrats, she said, particularly those in the Senate. “Look at their track-record throughout this session,” she told a throng of reporters. “Their leadership displayed rampant partisanship, some of the worst that I’ve seen, and constant gridlock, delays and feet-dragging.
“We need to produce a budget for the state of New Mexico. That’s one of our main jobs,” Speaker of the House Don Tripp, R-Socorro, said shortly before the House voted to send the state budget to the governor’s desk. The House concurred with the changes made to House Bills 2 and 4, which make up the state budget, unanimously. The budget passed 67-0. There was very little debate, only Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, and Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, noting that a lot of the changes added by the Senate were part of the failed Democratic floor amendment.
The newly empowered Republican House majority approved a proposal for the upcoming fiscal year’s state budget, over protestations by Democrats who pushed two failed late-hour alternative proposals they said reflected their priorities. Rep. Larry Larrañaga, R-Albuquerque, sponsored the chamber’s ultimately successful budget bill, which totals more than $6.2 billion and includes an increase of $81.7 million over last year. Three hours of debate centered on divisive spending priorities, particularly the House Appropriations and Finance Committee’s apportioning of $36.5 million in new money for public schools. All but $8.3 million of those new funds would be directed toward program priorities of Gov. Susana Martinez and her Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera, many of which have received criticism by teachers and some school district leaders. Larrañaga described his budget measure as “balanced” and “well thought-out,” with increases for road projects, child protective services and higher education endowments, plus $9.5 million more for college financial aid.