Budget Fix

It is high noon at the Roundhouse with Governor Susana Martinez facing off against the legislature in a special session Wednesday forced by her veto of all higher education funding. Without a deal, colleges and universities in New Mexico would have to close the doors July 1st.  Taking students and faculty hostage is desperate political tactic by someone who has never understood the job of governor and who sees any disagreement as a personal rebuke.

For seven long years this governor has insisted that cutting spending is the only approach to dealing with declining revenues and a stagnant state economy. Now, Susana has finally backed off killing any new taxes and supports putting the tax back on groceries as long as it is part of a massive tax reform. As of this morning that reform bill, HB 412, is not complete, has not been printed, and runs more than 400 pages. There is no way that our representatives can make sense of an issue this complicated in an emergency session. It will have to wait for the regular session, now just 7 months away.

Of course, the legislature sent the governor a balanced budget, one her staff worked on, and which passed both houses by large bipartisan majorities. It is a shame there are not enough Republicans willing now to stand up and override her vetoes.

So what happens now? My guess is both sides agree to close the internet tax loophole and money is swept from various reserves into the general fund, although most of those were raided before. The legislature should do that quickly, send the budget again to Governor DoNothing, and adjourn. Thank goodness there are only 19 months left in her term.

We will make ourselves heard tomorrow at the capitol. The event starts at 11:00 and includes a march on the governor’s office. We reject playing politics with higher education. We reject a tax on food. We are calling out the cowards who won’t override the vetoes. We are calling for a fair tax system and a moral budget that looks out for all New Mexicans.  I hope to see you there.

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