Governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham and Gov. Susana Martinez made their first joint-public appearance since Election Day on Friday to announce that the two are in the midst of a smooth transition. Both Lujan Grisham and Martinez highlighted the significance of Martinez, the nation’s first Latina governor, handing the reins of state government over to another Latina. Lujan Grisham will be sworn in on Jan. 1. The outgoing governor also took a moment to take credit for handing over a healthy state government to Lujan Grisham.
Gov. Susana Martinez announced Tuesday her proposal to balance the state budget, which involves moving $268.5 million from various state agencies. “This is a responsible budget that reduces the size of government while at the same time protects the progress we’ve made in diversifying our economy, reforming our education system, and keeps our communities safe,” Martinez said in a press release. The proposal includes taking $120 million from public education in funds that Martinez’s press release referred to as “slush funds.”
Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, told NM Political Report that the proposal is a “starting point for negotiation purposes,” but that real discussions will happen in committee meetings once the legislative session begins next week. Smith, a fiscal conservative, also criticized Martinez’s proposed sweep from public schools. “I’m not as harsh on education as she is,” Smith said.
NM Political Report senior reporter Joey Peters and reporter Andy Lyman sat down to talk about what we covered this week and what to expect next week. The two reporters talked a little about what a Trump presidency might mean for New Mexico, especially in terms of a new BLM rule and marijuana. They also recapped Peters’ coverage of the state’s Human Services Department leading up to the new special master announced Thursday and the fact that Gov. Susana Martinez is no longer chair of the Republican Governors Association.
While many are criticizing Donald Trump’s rhetoric against the parents of a soldier who died in Iraq, U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce said the Republican presidential nominee’s comments are politically fair game. The congressman from southern New Mexico, who supports Trump, told KOB that “most of the comments were right on track, talking about the sacrifice, heroism of the son.”
“And then he simply said the father shouldn’t be making a political issue of out of it,” Pearce continued. “That was well within bounds, in my opinion.”
In an email to NM Political Report, Pearce did criticize Trump, and this news outlet for this story. “Everyone who is dragging Captain Kahn’s sacrifice and his family’s grief into the political realm is wrong that includes NM Political Report and candidate Trump,” Pearce said in a statement. Pearce is a veteran who served as a combat pilot in Vietnam.
Darren White resigned from Gary Johnson’s administration over the then-governor’s push for marijuana legalization. Now, White thinks that Johnson should be the next president. Last Thursday, just before the end of the Republican National Convention, White took to Twitter to announce his support for Johnson. “This year I can’t back the GOP,” White wrote. “And I’m not alone.”
New Mexico’s State Auditor is gearing up for the next step in clearing the backlog of untested sexual assault evidence kits, or rape kits, throughout the state. State Auditor Tim Keller announced Thursday his office will conduct a statewide survey of law enforcement agencies and an audit of eight police agencies to get an idea of how rape kits are tested. “We are working with law enforcement agencies and stakeholders to shine a light on what changes are needed to eliminate the backlog and keep it from happening again,” Keller said in a statement. Last year Keller’s office found that there were over 5,000 untested evidence kits around the state. A majority of these were within the Albuquerque Police Department.