Gov. Martinez sets date for special session

Gov. Susanna Martinez spoke about bills she has recently signed and vetoed at the New Mexico State Police District 7 officein Taos on Tuesday (April 18). (Photo by Katharine Egli, The Taos News)

Gov. Susana Martinez has called a special session set for May 24 to once again rally lawmakers in Santa Fe to address concerns surrounding the New Mexico state budget.

The session was announced through an official proclamation circulated Friday afternoon (May 5) – a message that likely came as little surprise to those who have kept a pulse on developments during this year’s legislative session at the state capital.

By the close of the 60-day session that ended in March, Martinez had vetoed a total of 140 bills, including those for higher education, capital outlay projects, the closure of tax loopholes for short-term rentals, funding for nearly every branch of state government, and calls for tax increases – many of which were built on bipartisan support among lawmakers.

The governor has continually referred to the dismal state of the budget as the reason for turning down more than half of the bills brought before her desk this year.

“It is incumbent upon state government officials to balance the budget, replenish general fund reserves, and provide a foundation for enduring economic stability,” Martinez stated in her proclamation.

The governor spelled out an agenda that calls for tax reform. “The state budget should be balanced by making fiscally responsible reductions to state expenditures and through comprehensive tax reform without raising taxes,” the proclamation further states, and went on to reference House Bill 412 as the would-have-been solution for a “comprehensive tax reform package.”

In closing, the governor outlines nine points to ameliorate the current tax structure.

But the stagnation between the governor and state lawmakers continues to show little movement on either side, with both issuing calls for concessions that seem to go largely unanswered.

With the beginning of the new budget year fast approaching on July 1, lawmakers seem to be approaching the upcoming special session with caution.

State Sen. Carlos Cisneros and State Rep. Robert “Bobby” Gonzalez attended a town hall meeting at Taos Mesa Brewing earlier today (May 6) and fielded questions from the audience regarding this year’s legislative session and the recently announced special session.

Audience members asked about bills regarding renewable energy, education and others.

Overall, the state lawmakers expressed a mix of criticism of state leadership and cautious optimism as they move forward into the renewed discussions regarding the state budget.

Speaker of the House Brian Egolf echoed the sentiments in a statement issued just a few hours following the governor’s announcement.

“While I am pleased to know the date that the Governor wishes to begin the Special Session. I remain very disappointed that the governor has not put forward any details of her proposal,” Egolf said. “Until she shows the details to the people of the state and the Legislature, it isn’t possible to know whether there can be an agreement. The governor knows, because House and Senate leadership have been clear from the beginning, that cuts to education, health care, behavioral health and important economic development initiatives will not be accepted during a special session.”