Finance Agency: State revenues up; Gov’s furlough, closing threats just politics

At the close of the legislative session, Gov. Martinez made statewide news announcing huge gaps in state revenue that required her to close state parks and museums and furlough state workers if the legislature did not pass her preferred version of the state budget. That threat appears to be based on a lie a new report from the state’a leading finance agency. 

The state is on track to end the year at least $71 million ahead of projections, according to the report and other financial data. From the Santa Fe New Mexican: 
A revenue forecast for the state of New Mexico released Friday indicates that Gov. Susana Martinez is wrong about the need for employee furloughs or a hiring freeze to balance spending for the remaining two months of the fiscal year, according to a top university economist. The budget tracking report from the Legislative Finance Committee indicates “revenues continue to appear on track or exceed expectations from the December forecast.” It projects that the state general fund will close out the 2017 fiscal year at $54 million, or 1 percent, above expectations… An economics professor, asked by The New Mexican to review the revenue tracking report, said Martinez’s talk of furloughs isn’t supported by the revenue forecast.

US Sen Tom Udall leads town hall on methane waste and oil and gas pollution

US Senator Tom Udall led a town hall conversation Tuesday night from the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces. More than 700 New Mexicans participated live in Las Cruces, on Facebook LIVE and in remove viewing locations in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Though connectivity problems inhibited some in Albuquerque and Santa Fe from asking questions live, voters in those locations also heard from local leaders and organizers from the Sierra Club about local actions to prevent the repeal of the federal Methane Rule as well as local actions to hold oil and gas companies accountable to pay public royalties to fund local schools and community programs.

If you missed the event, you can watch Sen. Udall’s presentation as well as a brief conversation with Northern New Mexico Rancher Don Schreiber. Methane Town Hall w Sen Udall
 

New Mexico Senators Tom Udall (r) and Martin Heinrich (l), both Democrats

Senators Udall & Heinrich can’t do this alone: Tell Sen McCain and Heller to stand up for clean air in the west

This tax season, we should be finding ways to save taxpayer dollars, not giving the oil and gas industry a pass to waste our money and pollute our air. We need our elected officials to stand up for us, not for the multi-billion dollar oil and gas industry. Drillers in western states dump millions of tons of methane – a greenhouse gas more powerful than CO2 and dangerous to the air we breathe – into our air each year. Like other mineral royalties in the west, drillers are supposed to pay royalties on the public resources they drill – but they don’t pay if they vent it into the air.  

An Obama-era rule required them to cap the leaks and stop venting public resources and royalties they owe us.

Did Susana Martinez finally go too far? Legislators to challenge gov’s vetoes in court and in extraordinary session

Governor Martinez threw a fit last week and vetoed the entire legislative branch of government, higher education for every New Mexican student and job training seeker and revenues designed to protect classroom spending, Medicaid and public safety. Now legislators have had enough so they are fighting back.Leaders of the legislature, Speaker Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) and Sen. Maj. Leader Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe), announced yesterday that the Legislative Council Service had been instructed by leaders to initiate legal action to challenge the governor’s vetoes in 3 key areas. Read more: Legislators to sue Martinez over vetoes | NM Political Report

Veto of co-equal branch of government to be challenged
Can a governor just veto all funding for the legislative branch?  Legislators say no and they’ve instructed their staff to use what little funding they have left in their current budget to hire a lawyer and sue the governor to find out.

These oil and gas jobs are clean (and growing in New Mexico!)

Companies capturing stopping leaks of Methane and other greenhouse and polluting gases at oil and gas drilling sites are expanding rapidly in New Mexico a new report shows. From the Public News Service – NM:
While cleaner air is good news for the environment in New Mexico, it might be just as big a boon to the job market, since these companies are hiring workers to perform methane mitigation. The report showed at least 60 mitigation companies working in 45 states. Marcy Lowe, chief executive of Datu Research, a group related to Duke University that published the report, explained why it’s important to stop these leaks. “Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas,” she said.

RSVP: Statewide Town Halls on Methane with Sen Tom Udall

Join US Sen. Tom Udall, state legislators, local elected officials and members from ProgressNowNM, Sierra Club, Conservation Voters NM, Interfaith Power and Light and the Environmental Defense Fund and local activists for statewide town hall on Methane pollution and it’s impact on our air quality and budget. Tuesday April 18th
Meet at 5:30, Events begin at 6pm

Methane Rule Town Hall: Santa Fe
Methane Rule Town Hall: Downtown Albuquerque
Methane Rule Town Hall: Las Cruces (with Sen. Tom Udall in person)
Can’t attend one of the in-person events?  RSVP to join LIVE via Facebook and you can listen and ask your questions live in your Facebook feed.  We’ll take care of all the technology, just RSVP and we’ll send you a reminder with all the details. Methane Rule Town Hall: Join via Facebook

Read more: What is the Methane and what is the Methane Rule?

Gov. Martinez vetoed the legislature’s entire budget in spiteful budget battle

After facing criticism for leaving more than 200 bills unsigned on her desk while leaving the state to speak at a conference of Tennessee workers, Martinez surprised nearly everyone by coming back to the state to announce hundreds-of-millions of dollars in vetoes, including vetoes to the entire budgets of every state college and university and the entire budget of the legislature, a branch she admits in her veto message is supposed to be a co-equal branch of government. The vetoed version of the budget includes line-item vetoes of the entire legislative budget.  

At $18.7 million, the budget for the entire branch of government amounts to just 0.03% of the state’s $6 billion budget. Gov. also vetoes legislator memberships, keeps $100,000 in memberships for her out-of-state conferences and travel
Martinez also vetoed memberships and funds for travel for state legislators to attend legislative events but she kept more than $100,000 for her own memberships to governor’s conferences she frequently attends of out state at taxpayer expense, including the National and Western States Governors Associations.  
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Gov. Martinez goes on trial in Santa Fe

The trial of Santa Fe Reporter vs. Governor Susana Martinez (D-101-CV-201302328) is finally underway in Santa Fe District Court. At the core of the issue: did Governor Martinez and her staff retaliate against news outlets not favorable to her by delaying or ignoring their public records requests and requests for comments? The suit alleges that the governor’s office stopped responding to Santa Fe Reporter questions and requests after the paper published excerpts from the governor’s private emails with cabinet officials and campaign members discussing public business. Joey Peters, then a reporter for the SFR, apparently recorded a phone call with Gov. Martinez in which he asked her about the SFR’s problems getting a response.