Gov. Susana Martinez signed a tax package on Monday afternoon that she says will create jobs throughout the state. Martinez, accompanied by those in the business community as well as legislators, signed the legislation in Albuquerque. The state Legislature passed the tax package last week overwhelmingly during a special session. The package failed to pass during the regular session earlier this year. “We must diversify our economy and grow our private sector, and that requires us to make it easier for those with great ideas to start a new business in New Mexico,” Martinez said in a statement.
The New Mexico Legislature passed a capital outlay bill that will fund more than 1,000 infrastructure projects throughout the state during a special session earlier this week. Depending on your point of view, legislators came back and were able to put aside differences and pass a bipartisan bill or they finally got work done that should have been done in the 60-day session that took place earlier this year. In all, there will be $295 million in spending, most from severance tax bonds but some from the state general fund and other state funds. The smallest amount appropriated was $1,000 for the Questa Veterans Memorial. Legislators earmarked over $16 million for the largest individual project.
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.
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 .
It’s now official: Governor Susana Martinez has called a special session for Monday. The special session is expected to last just one day, as negotiators from the governor’s office, the House and Senate announced a deal had been made. Martinez’s office sent a release to the media on Friday evening, saying that she is calling the state legislature into a special legislative session at noon on Monday. Some, including legislators, thought it had been too late for a special session to happen. But an action by the state Board of Finance made it possible.
After on-and-off negotiations since the end of the legislative session in March, state lawmakers recently came to an agreement with Gov. Susana Martinez on a capital outlay and tax package deal that will bring them back to Santa Fe for a special session next week. This, despite repeated statements from state Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, that a special session had to occur by May 18—more than two weeks ago. “We don’t think we can do that after the 18th,” Smith told New Mexico Political Report last month. From our May 14 report:
Smith said if legislators can’t strike a deal before a creeping deadline of Monday, May 18, all bets are pretty much off. That’s because New Mexico’s next fiscal year starts July 1, and bond sales for state infrastructure projects need 30 days to advertise before then.
It turns out that when Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, told New Mexico Political Report that a deal on capital outlay for capital outlay legislation and a tax package was near, he was very literal. Gov. Susana Martinez announced in a press release Wednesday afternoon, just hours after Smith said a deal was near, that the two sides reached an agreement and that she will call a special session. It will be just the second special session that Martinez has called since being in office, the previous one in 2011 dealt with the required decennial redistricting. The special session is tentatively scheduled for June 8, though Martinez’s office did not say it would for sure happen on that date. The capital outlay package will be $295 million in size.
A deal on a capital outlay measure and a tax package bill could revive a previously dead special legislative session next week. Update: A special session will happen, as soon as Monday, Gov. Susana Martinez announced. See here for details. This post continues as originally written below. State Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, told New Mexico Political Report that legislators have been notified to set next Monday and Tuesday aside to be available for a possible session.
Although “hope springs eternal,” state Sen. John Arthur Smith isn’t optimistic a special session will happen this year. “As of noon today, we’ve gotten no feedback from the executive branch,” Smith, D-Deming, and a key negotiator to any deal that would bring legislators back to Santa Fe to pass a capital outlay bill, told New Mexico Political Report Wednesday afternoon. Smith said if legislators can’t strike a deal before a creeping deadline of Monday, May 18, all bets are pretty much off. That’s because New Mexico’s next fiscal year starts July 1, and bond sales for state infrastructure projects need 30 days to advertise before then. If the legislature approves a new capital outlay late, Smith said the state will lose bond capacity on new projects outlined in a deal.
House Republicans say there is no deal for a special session, despite reports to the contrary, leaving millions of dollars of capital outlay projects in limbo. Senate Democrats agreed to what they called a compromise deal late Thursday night. Speaker of the House Don Tripp issued a statement saying that there was no deal on Friday morning. “It is stunning that the Senate Democrats would publicly trumpet ‘mission accomplished’ on a capital outlay deal by agreeing to their own proposal when no one else even knows the details of the proposal,” Tripp said in the statement. “It’s unfortunate that the Senate Democrats would rather govern by press releases than engage in good faith negotiations with the House and the Executive.