The Latest: New Mexico governor urges cooperation on crime
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on the start of a new legislative session in New Mexico (all times local):
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is sounding an optimistic note about rebounding state finances and urging lawmakers to approve tougher criminal penalties at the outset of a new legislative session.
Martinez delivered her final State of the State speech to the Legislature on Tuesday. She said the state’s budget surplus has climbed to an estimated $330 million.
She called on Lawmakers to reform the state’s gross receipts taxes on sales and business services and make funding for business incentives permanent.
She repeated calls to reinstate the death penalty. The proposal has been rejected repeatedly by the legislature.
The New Mexico Legislature has convened for a 30-day legislative session to craft a new state budget and address concerns about crime and public safety.
The Democrat-led Legislature gathered Tuesday in the state Capitol. GOP Gov. Susana Martinez and leading lawmakers are seizing on a recent increase in state tax income to try and boost spending on education, law enforcement, Medicaid and economic development incentives.
Martinez has endorsed a series of tough-on-crime bills that would restore the death penalty and stiffen penalties for multiple violent felonies, while providing new immunity from prosecution to law enforcement officers.
The top Democrat in the New Mexico House of Representatives is highlighting commitments to public education funding, health care services and environmental protection.
House Speaker Brian Egolf released a video on YouTube on Tuesday that acknowledges recent tough economic times in New Mexico and says Democrats are committed to putting more money toward early childhood education and making sure residents have clean air and clean water.
The video segment preceded the governor’s midday State of the State address that marks the beginning of the 2018 legislative session.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers are largely in agreement on the need to increase public school funding as the state emerges from a budget crisis linked to volatility in the oil and natural gas sector.
GOP Gov. Susana Martinez is proposing a roughly $70 million increase to public education funding that emphasizes financial incentives for teacher excellence.
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 convenes for a 30-day session.
The session begins at noon on Tuesday with the State of the State address by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
State tax income is on the rise as lawmakers begin crafting a spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Pay increases are under consideration for teachers and state workers — with an added emphasis pay for the judiciary, law enforcement and corrections officers.
New Mexico government income for the coming fiscal year is expected to surpass annual spending obligations by nearly $200 million. The governor wants to raise an additional $99 million through tax and health care reforms.