Governor on crime legislation: `I’m going to keep trying’

By Daniel J. Chacón and Robert Nott, The Santa Fe New Mexican

As Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham started her post-session news conference Saturday, she already knew the score. Of the roughly 40 public safety bills introduced this year, the governor said she championed 10. “We have about a handful up, and out of 40, it’s 10 [that passed], and not all of those would really constitute what I think are strong public safety measures,” she said. “I know that is an area that you want me to say I’m disappointed,” Lujan Grisham added. “I’m motivated.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, center, addresses a bipartisan group of legislators, media, community organizers and law enforcement in the cabinet meeting room in the Governor’s Office January 25, 2023.

Lujan Grisham proposes ‘public safety investment strategy’

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham proposed a package of legislation that would promote public safety statewide, if approved. She said that public safety has always been a legislative priority for as long as she could remember. “The details of that shift and the issues that we are called to address change. That is awesome,” Lujan Grisham said during a Wednesday press conference. “This administration has been working on mostly but not entirely, making sure that the criminal enhancements, that the high risk criminal aspects get dealt with in our public safety effort, but they’re doing all of these upfront investments to make sure that we have healthier, stronger, resilient families and we’re dealing with making sure that poverty isn’t our enemy as we look to gain ground in public safety.” 

There was also discussion about how the root causes of crime, such as abject poverty, can be handled from a legislative perspective.

Martinez unveils $6.5 billion budget proposal; $228 million in new spending

Stressing priorities and the state’s shaky energy revenue source, Gov. Susana Martinez proposed a budget with a $228 million increase in recurring state spending. That comes out to a 3.7 percent increase over the previous year’s budget. At a press conference in a downtown Albuquerque building that houses the state Corrections Department, Martinez said her proposed budget emphasizes “three things above all others”— education, public safety and jobs. “Keeping New Mexicans safe, reforming and improving public education, and creating jobs by diversifying our economy and helping small businesses grow,” she said. The proposal comes even as legislators warn about the effects of low oil prices that show no sign of increasing.

First responder unions talk ‘fair share’

Following a memorial for those lost in the attacks of September 11, union members gathered for a press conference to address issues regarding first responders and collective bargaining. The union members gathered in a conference room in an Albuquerque hotel on Friday afternoon. At issue was a case set to go before the U.S. Supreme Court. Friedrichs v. California Teachers concerns whether union employees are required to pay “fair share.” These are payments from non-union personnel who would benefit from union bargaining. Public sector union members and their supporters have argued that first responders will suffer without a strong collective bargaining unit.