The Latest: New Mexico governor praises lawmakers’ budget
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on the conclusion of the New Mexico state legislative session (all times local):
Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is complimenting state lawmakers for approving a fiscally responsible budget that provides more money for education, public safety and business incentives.
Martinez said Thursday that she believes her administration is leaving state finances and the economy in better shape than when she took office in 2011.
A budget bill sent to the governor would increase state spending by 4 percent in the coming fiscal year and leave 10 percent spending reserves in case of an economic downturn.
The former prosecutor praised criminal justice reforms approved by the Democrat-led legislature but lamented that it did not include broader child abuse penalties that she supports.
Martinez signed a bill Thursday to help shore up a man-made cavern on the verge of collapse underneath two highways on the outskirts of Carlsbad.
New Mexico House Speaker Brian Egolf says he was pleased with the bipartisan tone of the state’s 30-day session that passed a series of crime reforms and budget increases.
Egolf said he believed this session which ended Thursday was Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s “best” since she communicated with lawmakers better.
The Democrat says he wished this better communication had been sooner and hoped it continues with a new governor.
Martinez is prevented from running for re-election.
Egolf says lawmakers were able to pass a series of bipartisan bills by meeting before the session and talking to the governor on what she supported.
The New Mexico Legislature has adjourned after a 30-day session that focused on budget increases and criminal justice reforms.
The Democrat-led House and Senate concluded work at midday Thursday after sending the governor a $6.3 billion budget plan that increases spending on the judiciary, public education, business incentives and Medicaid.
Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has until March 7 to act on legislation. Bills that are not signed or vetoed by then go into effect. Martinez can veto the annual budget line by line.
Martinez has said she is generally supportive of the Legislature’s budget priorities that increased funding for education, law enforcement, business incentives and Medicaid. She is threatening to veto any tax increase.
A package of reforms that seeks to fix New Mexico’s ailing legal guardianship system is heading to the governor’s desk.
The New Mexico Senate approved Thursday a measure designed to combat exploitation and abuse in what has been a closed sequestered system overseen by the state’s courts.
The measure includes more stringent reporting and financial accountability measures. It also requires that conservators be bonded or secure other asset-protection.
Those placed under guardianship or conservatorships are typically elderly, those with dementia or Alzheimer’s or others who need help with their decision-making or finances.
New Mexico lawmakers have passed legislation that would establish set amounts for lottery scholarships depending on the type of college a student attends.
The measure introduced by Democrat Sen. Bill Soules of Las Cruces passed the House in the waning hours of the legislative session after getting Senate approval earlier this week.
The lottery-funded scholarships help pay tuition for more than 28,000 students at public universities and colleges around the state. The amount of financial aid available through the program has been declining since lottery revenues have not kept pace with increases in tuition and student enrollment.
Another measure that would provide at least $40 million of lottery revenues to the scholarship fund each year has stalled in the Senate. University students were demanding that the chamber vote on the bill before they adjourn.
The New Mexico Senate has approved a bill providing greater confidentiality to tenants of a taxpayer-funded space launch site.
Senators on Thursday approved exemptions to the state’s open records laws for information about tenants of Spaceport America. The vote came after the House voted to narrow the scope of secrecy provisions. The bill now goes before Gov. Susana Martinez.
Managers of the Spaceport America hangar, rocket launch pad and runway say greater confidentiality over trade secrets and sensitive contract provisions are needed to compete for new aerospace-industry tenants.
Greg Williams of the Foundation for Open Government says the revised bill strikes a balance between public access to records and protecting proprietary information.
Lawmakers are considering increased scrutiny of a discretionary fund for social functions of the governor.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is urging lawmakers to revive a stalled bill that would make the intentional and fatal abuse of a child up to age 17 punishable by a sentence of life in prison.
The governor’s office released a letter from Martinez to the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman on Thursday in the final hours of a 30-day legislative session.
Martinez, a former district attorney, offered to testify before the Senate as an expert witness on behalf of the bill.
The bill would expand the victim age range for handing down life sentences in fatal child abuse cases. Under the current law, convicted child abusers can be given life terms only in cases where the victim is 12 or younger.
Supporters of the measure have pointed to the recent death of a 13-year-old boy who authorities say had been brutalized as a reason to pass the legislation.
The New Mexico Legislature is wrapping up a 30-day session after approving a $6.3 billion budget bill that shores up spending on the criminal justice system and public education with pay raises allotted to teachers and state workers.
The Democrat-led Legislature has until noon Thursday to approve legislation.
New Mexico’s rising crime rate has been a dominant concern of the legislative session.
Lawmakers approved an 8.5 percent pay raise for state police, prison guards and parole officers and are rallying behind an unconventional reform package that decriminalizes littering to focus on severe crime.
Lawmakers are boosting annual funding to early childhood education and public schools, but won’t tap into a state sovereign wealth fund.
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is generally supportive of the legislatures spending priorities.