The budget is the primary focus of the legislature in this 30-day session (Article IV, Section 5, New Mexico Constitution). The governor may allow other subjects to be considered (Article IV, Section 5.B.2), but expect her to exercise this option sparingly, as the House and Senate will be convening for such a short period of time.
Good News: New Mexico has approximately $300 million dollars of extra revenue to work with in setting next year’s budget, thanks in large part to higher revenues from oil & gas and mining activities. The overall state budget will be in the neighborhood of $6.1 billion dollars.
The following are my positions on issues likely to be debated during this session. These are general positions at this time, subject to change as bills are debated and amended and as the budget picture becomes more clear.
Budget, Appropriations, and Revenue Bills
As regards the 2014-15
state budget, I favor
Accomplishing “government” without raising your taxesKeeping a budget reserve of at least 9.5% for emergencies
Increasing salaries for state employees and teachers by up to 3 percent
Providing additional compensation for police, protective services workers, and corrections officers to help retain and recruit these highly essential public-safety employees
Promoting economic growth through targeted investment of capital outlay money
Keeping “raiders” from weakening the state’s Permanent Fund
Investing $100 million dollars over the next five years to fix dangerous roads/highways in areas of the state where oil & gas development has been occurring. This industry accounts for 30% of the state’s economy, and the legislature needs to pay back—for reasons of public safety—a larger share of the revenues sent to Santa Fe.
New Mexico is still suffering through an epic drought, and water must be used wisely and more efficiently than ever before. Governor Martinez is asking the legislature for the following measures, which I generally support:
Use a significant amount of this year’s capital outlay for water infrastructure
$2M to the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI) for critical research on water issues
Water Technical Assistance Fund
Workforce Development: Healthcare
New Mexico has a shortage of doctors, dentists, nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing instructors, and the state needs to enact policies, and commit funds, to grow this workforceIncrease funding of nursing homes and the behavioral health network
There’s much we can do to improve the business climate in New Mexico. During this session the New Mexico Legislature will be considering bills to
Create a “one-stop business portal” for all filings and fees (Support)
Offer more business tax credits for new investments (Support)
Fund trade missions ($100,000) to Mexico, Israel, Brazil, and Taiwan to promote the sale of agricultural products and manufactured goods made in New Mexico (Support)
agree with the governor’s efforts to
Increase starting salaries for public school teachers
Provide resources to ensure that every student learns how to read
Allow for hiring of part-time adjunct teachers, especially in science and math
Permit accelerated advancement into school administration for qualified applicants
Fix the Lottery Scholarship Program (I oppose tapping into the General Fund to do this)
I fully support the governor’s plan to devote $600,000 in starter funds to build three or four national veterans’ cemeteries in rural parts of New Mexico (federal dollars will apply also), and I am strongly advocating for one of these cemeteries to be in Eddy County
I support allocating $1M to make the Returning Heroes Firefighter Program a fixture of the state budget
New Mexico needs a state energy plan (the last one was done 23 years ago)—one that takes into account New Mexico’s abundant natural resources, energy needs, and energy security. I have been participating in the early stages of developing such a plan, and I am sponsoring a memorial during the current legislative session to direct the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department to conduct a study into the feasibility of siting small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) in New Mexico and to make recommendations about SMRs in the proposed energy plan. Small modulars are designed to be assembled and sited underground using factory-built components (Made in U.S.A.); they are safe by design, using natural processes such as convection, conduction, and gravity for operations and cooling; they are relatively affordable; they have a lifespan of 60 to 80 years; and they are nonpolluting, producing zero carbon emissions.