Governor revamps website to tout anticipated accomplishments
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The website for the governor’s office in New Mexico has undergone a makeover to highlight anticipated economic accomplishments during the eight-year tenure of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
As a Democrat prepares to succeed Martinez, her office is citing a $2 billion budget surplus by combining two years of estimated state government income that hasn’t materialized yet.
Those estimates were made in August as oil production in the New Mexico hit an all-time high and will be revised next week. Government economists say the state’s recent revenue growth is mostly tied to the energy sector.
The revamped website echoes the upbeat assessment of Martinez’s accomplishments as described on a separate website funded by undisclosed contributors to a nonprofit group called New Mexico Legacy.
New Mexico’s termed-out governor will be succeeded in January by Democratic Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham, who defeated Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce as Democrats swept statewide and congressional races in the November election, while bolstering the party’s state House majority.
The race for governor was dominated by concerns about the state’s economic dependence on a boom-and-bust oil sector along with struggling public schools.
The governor’s office website notes a $450 million increase in state spending on public education since Martinez took office in January 2011 — a slight underestimate of the increase, according to official summaries of past state budgets.
State spending commitments to public schools increased from $2.3 billion in early 2011 to nearly $2.8 billion in the current fiscal year without adjusting for inflation.
At the same time, Martinez has appealed a recent court order that seeks much greater resources for struggling public schools — in particular for students from low-income and minority families, including Native Americans.
Public schools in New Mexico rely almost entirely on state funding that accounts for about 45 percent of annual state general-fund spending.
Grisham has promised to drop the appeal and work with the Democrat-led Legislature to try and comply with the court ruling.
Teachers unions and other education advocates in New Mexico say state spending on public schools has yet to recover fully from cutbacks in response to the recession.
New Mexico’s spending of $2.5 billion on public education in 2007 is the equivalent of about $3.1 billion today when adjusted for inflation under the U.S. Consumer Price Index.
Martinez says tax cuts under her administration have helped spur the state’s economy. New Mexico’s unemployment rate has fallen to 4.6 percent from 6 percent a year ago, but it still exceeds most states.