Included in this year’s “Legislative Feed Bill” (the bill passed every year to pay legislative staffers and fund state expenses during the session) was emergency funding for New Mexico’s courts. The court system needs this money to pay jurors and keep the operations of the judicial branch of government functioning properly – kind of a big deal.
But today Gov. Martinez again vetoed $800,000 of funding for the courts (for the third time), throwing public safety in New Mexico into jeopardy. “Vetoed provision of the bill would have provided $800,000 to bolster funding for jurors and court interpreters that could be exhausted in early March.”
And while Gov. Martinez doesn’t see fit to spend $800,000 for an absolutely critical function of New Mexico’s state government, she had no problem spending more than $200,000 remodeling her office last year.
In 2016, $206,000 was appropriated out of legislative cash balances signed by the governor to upgrade her office (see bel0w).
READ MORE: You might also remember the $80,000 fund Gov. Martinez keeps for parties like the one where her staffers were throwing bottles off the roof of a fancy Santa Fe hotel.
Senate Leader Peter Wirth immediately blasted the governor’s veto and drew attention to the dire consequences it could have to our court system:
“For the third time, Governor Martinez now has rejected the Administrative Office of the Court’s urgent warnings that it will run out of money to pay jurors in one month’s time. Make no mistake, there will be severe consequences resulting from the Governor’s irresponsible veto of more than $800,000 that the Legislature passed in House Bill 1 (HB 1) to fund juries across our state. As a former prosecutor, Governor Martinez knows better.
Without additional funding, our state will be far less safe because of the Governor’s veto today. The coming chaos in our courts system can be placed squarely at the feet of this Governor,” said Senator Wirth.
Sadly, this action is typical of a chief executive who prefers playing political games than actually doing something about the serious problems facing New Mexico today, and our worst-in-the-nation unemployment rate.”
The governor has now, for the third time, decided to play politics with our court system and put New Mexico in a position where criminals could walk free.
I bet her remodeled office looks great though.