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The Latest: Democrats warn Gov. Martinez about vetoes

January 16, 2018

New Mexico Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, talks to fellow senators as the New Mexico Legislative session began Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, in Santa Fe, N.M. Criminal justice initiatives and state spending increases for public education, law enforcement, Medicaid and economic development are at the top of the agenda as the New Mexico Legislature convened for a 30-day session. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez’s State of the State address (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

New Mexico Senate Democrats are warning Republican Gov. Susana Martinez they have bipartisan support on criminal justice reforms and on proposals to increase spending on various programs.

Sen. Howie Morales said Tuesday in response to the governor’s State of the State address that lawmakers will not hesitate to try to override any vetoes from Martinez on bills that have support from Democrats and Republicans.

The Silver City Democrat says lawmakers will consider a tobacco tax to help fund education and will work to give pay increases to state workers and teachers. Martinez also has called for raises.

Morales signaled that the governor’s proposal on third-grade retention was all but dead after multiple attempts to get it passed in the Legislature.

He says Senate Democrats will look at the governor’s call for increased penalties for some crimes but also would focus on prevention.

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2:35 p.m.

Susana Martinez says it has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as New Mexico’s governor and to be twice elected.

The Republican’s term wraps up at the end of the year.

In her State of the State address, on Tuesday, Martinez said she has crisscrossed the state — at times sharing high-fives and celebrating success, while also sharing tears during times of tragedy and heartbreak.

For her, she said the hardest moments are the ones that have left a firm imprint on her memory. She talked about devastating wildfires and the deadly shooting at Aztec High School in December.

She talked about the bravery of one employee who ran through the halls, alerting teachers and students.

She says strong and persistent people are the essence of New Mexico and that the state’s best days are ahead thanks to the devotion and character of its people.

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2:25 p.m.

Gov. Susana Martinez wants more money to be funneled toward child care services and the expansion of prekindergarten programs in New Mexico.

She said during her State of the State address on Tuesday that during her tenure, New Mexico has tripled the number of children who have received a pre-K education.

With another $8 million, Martinez said nearly 2,000 more children could be served.

She also said dozens more caseworkers have been hired to investigate child abuse and to intervene with high-risk families.

Through the state’s Pull Together campaign, she said more people are being connected to resources and as a result, demand for such services is increasing.

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2:22 p.m.

Gov. Susana Martinez is again urging lawmakers to find a way to help students who aren’t proficient in reading.

She said in her State of the State address that 21,000 students between first and third grades were passed onto the next grade last year without being able to read at grade level.

In past years, she has called for an end to “social promotion,” but Democrats and teachers unions have resisted the proposal over concerns that retentions don’t solve student underachievement.

On Tuesday, the governor asked for lawmakers to create a framework for parents and teachers to work together on interventions for children who have fallen behind on reading.

She said in cases where students need more time, that could come over the summer or during the next school year.

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2:20 p.m.

Gov. Susana Martinez says she will continue to call for education reforms.

In her address Tuesday to the New Mexico Legislature, the two-term Republican governor said more dollars are going toward the classroom and parents now have more information about school performance.

She said 32,000 more children are attending schools now that have A and B grades and that struggling schools are getting state attention.

She pointed to successes in Farmington and Gadsden schools while calling out the state’s largest district in Albuquerque, where the number of F schools has increased.

She called on lawmakers to expand teacher and principal mentorship programs, to continue with anti-truancy efforts and to boost early reading programs.

She also wants a 2 percent raise for teachers and a $5,000 bonus for those who earn exemplary ratings.

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2:08 p.m.

Gov. Susana Martinez says she hears the frustrations of those New Mexicans who have been victims of crime and of the officers who are tired of arresting the same people.

In her State of the State address, the governor on Tuesday said criminals have found an easy mark thanks to weak laws and light punishments.

She said in Albuquerque, police have identified 189 dangerous repeat offenders who account for over 1,000 felony arrests in the past three years.

A former prosecutor, Martinez is pushing a series of tough-on-crime proposals again this year.

She said she’s encouraged to hear there’s bipartisan interest in tackling the crime problem — specifically a measure that would increase penalties for those who use a gun while committing a crime.

Martinez also wants to crack down on repeat drunken drivers.

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2:05 p.m.

Gov. Susana Martinez says New Mexico needs to be a safe place to live, pointing to crime and children as top priorities during this legislative session.

Among guests for her State of the State address was State Police Officer Dwayne Simpson, who was shot in August by a man whose criminal history stretched back decades. The officer’s badge stopped the bullet.

Martinez thanked Simpson for his bravery and handed him back his badge, saying it’s not just a piece of metal but a symbol of the bond officers have with their communities.

Law enforcement authorities have pointed to the case as an example of the problems with New Mexico’s criminal justice system. Court records show the suspect in the case had been released from jail just weeks before the shooting after being fitted with an ankle monitor.

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2 p.m.

Gov. Susana Martinez says work across party lines helped to ensure tax reforms that have made New Mexico more business-friendly.

She pointed to the decision by social media giant Facebook to build its newest data center near Los Lunas and subsequent decisions to expand.

In all, Facebook is investing more than $1 billion in New Mexico. Martinez says that’s equivalent to about a decade of private construction in Albuquerque, the state’s largest metro area.

Martinez says economic diversification is New Mexico’s path out of poverty. She also acknowledged that it won’t happen overnight and called for more tax reforms.

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1:55 p.m.

Gov. Susana Martinez says New Mexico has made strides in how it spends money on infrastructure, from big water projects to road construction.

The governor said in her State of the State address that every state highway project last year was finished on time and on budget.

She asked lawmakers not to dole out state capital funds on so-called pork projects but rather to use money on projects that will help to rebuild the state’s economic foundation.

She pointed to work along New Mexico’s southern border, which has become a hub for international trade and the transportation of goods.

Federal commerce statistics show Dona Ana County’s exports declined slightly to $1.57 billion but that the area became the state’s largest export zone in 2016.

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1:50 p.m.

Gov. Susana Martinez says New Mexico’s savings account is in good shape.

During her State of the State address, the two-term Republican governor told lawmakers that her successor will inherit healthy reserves that can be used to guard against future economic downturns.

Martinez’s second terms wraps up at the end of the year.

She says she’s proud the state has weathered fiscal and economic adversity and that it’s now stronger.

She also talked about making the state more business-friendly and competitive with neighboring states. She said it has been a bipartisan process, referring to the Legislature’s Democratic majority.

She called on lawmakers to make an incentive program that helps pay for job training a permanent part of the state budget.

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1:45 p.m.

Gov. Susana Martinez says New Mexico was in a much different position last year as she and lawmakers struggled to make ends meet as a crash in global oil and gas prices devastated the budget.

Spending cuts at the federal level also affected local businesses that work with military installations and national laboratories in New Mexico.

Martinez said Tuesday in her State of the State address that things have turned around and that the state is now projecting a budget surplus of $330 million.

She suggested that some of that money be returned to the taxpayers.

More revenue means there will be less pressure on the governor and lawmakers to craft the budget for the next fiscal year. Both the executive and legislative branches have prioritized education spending.

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10 a.m.

Gov. Susana Martinez will be giving her last State of the State address as New Mexico lawmakers convene for a 30-day legislative session.

The Legislature convenes at noon Tuesday in Santa Fe, and one of the first orders of business will be for lawmakers from both chambers to gather together for the annual address.

In what marks the final year of the two-term Republican governor’s tenure, she wants to focus on the familiar priorities of schools, job creation and public safety.

That includes pushing a series of tough-on-crime bills, from expanding the state’s three-strikes law for violent felons to restoring the death penalty.

Martinez also is looking to use New Mexico’s more favorable revenue forecast to provide pay increases for state employees and teachers. Lawmakers are specifically seeking a $2,000 base-pay increase for teachers.

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