Senator defends passage of 11th-hour tax deal

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Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 7:30 pm | Updated: 12:19 am, Wed Mar 27, 2013.

The chief architect of the last-minute tax deal that passed the New Mexico Legislature said he was unsure it had complete support from Gov. Susana Martinez until after she held her post-session news conference.

State Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said his last meeting with the governor was Friday morning, March 15, and she indicated her opposition to a provision that might force local governments to raise taxes in order to compensate for lost state revenue.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Joe Montoya posted at 9:50 am on Fri, Mar 22, 2013.

    Joe_Montoya Posts: 79

    It is apparent that a lot of movidas were involved in passage of this bill! Whether it will help or hurt New Mexicans remains toi be seen!

  • Van Hall posted at 9:49 am on Wed, Mar 20, 2013.

    Van Hall Posts: 24

    Not knowing Mr. Easley personally, my observations to date have not been positive.

    Mr. Easley submitted HB 402, the attempt to criminalize ownership of modern sport rifles, based upon appearance alone, and create an onerous regulation scheme, in violation of the US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights' 2nd, 4th, and 5th Amendments.

    Mr. Easley appears to be a small minded technocrat, who attempts to assume more power than his post is entitled.

  • Isaac Casados posted at 8:59 am on Wed, Mar 20, 2013.

    Isaac_Casados Posts: 7

    Nothing in politics is clear cut. Compromise was the only way that something was going to be passed in this legislative session. As with any bill, you will have support and opposition, yet none that it is law, everyone must move to make it work for the citizens of our great state.

  • New Mexican posted at 8:43 am on Wed, Mar 20, 2013.

    New Mexican Posts: 11

    Knowing Rep. Easley personally, I believe and trust his observations. But something had to be done and am guessing this is the best the people of New Mexico can hope for. Governor Martinez in the past has been using the GOP national model of do nothing and obstruct, obstruct and focus on hot button issues. This was a change for her.

    Politics seems to always smell a bit, and this was no different.

  • Francisco Carbajal posted at 8:57 pm on Tue, Mar 19, 2013.

    FranciscoCarbajal Posts: 222

    I got a chance to witness the last hour of both sides of the Chambers and I can tell you on how sick I got watching the last hour of the session. When I saw Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas having the last say on the House of Representatives Chamber, my stomach turned upside down. On the same note, Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas stand to protect convicted registered sex offender's community in this state is disgusting and morally wrong. His attorney background approach to weakening the current NM Sex Offender Laws in this state is irresponsible. His intervention in the defeat of three bills that would of protected and defended our children safety and well-being instead of the protection of convicted sex offenders should be exposed by the media. So, I am wondering why the media did not write anything about these sensitive bills to protect our kiddos that were sabotaged by State Representative Maestas and his convicted sex offenders that were invited to testify against Rep. Yvette Herrells' bill's? So, where is the fairness of the duty to report this type of moral turpitude?


Key issues facing lawmakers


Backdrop: New Mexico gained only 1,700 jobs during the past year ending in November. That's a growth rate of 0.2 percent and the lowest in the region. New Mexcio's unemployment rate was 6.4 percent in November compared with 6.7 percent a year earlier.

Proposals: Gov. Susana Martinez proposed expanding programs that can help bring nurses, dentists and other medical providers to rural areas. She also wants to provide $7.5 million for an endowment fund to attract top porfessors and researchers at colleges and universities. The governor recommends broadening tax incentivies to encourage startup companies as well as research and development. Democrats are pushing to increase the stat's minimum wage, which has been $7.50 an hour since 2009. Some lawmakers want automatic cost-of-living increases in the wage rate.


Backdrop: The current state budget is $5.9 billion, and revenues are expected to reach nearly $6.2 billion in the fiscal year starting in July. That provides about $239 million in "new money" for lawmakers and the governor for budget increases and to offset tax cuts. The state has cash reserves of more than $500 million, but that could shrink because of accounting discrepancies stretching back more than six years.

Proposals: Martinez has recommended a 3 percent budget increase compared with about 4 percent proposed by the Legislative Finance Committee. Martinez proposes targeted increases for hard-to-fill jobs such as state police. But the legislative panel advocates across-the-board raises for all state agency workers and educators, with higher amounts for those in certain jobs, including judges, state police and social workers.


Backdrop: About $600 million in bond financing is available for capital improvement projects. Some of that goes for specific purposes, including public schools and projects on tribal lands. However, much of the financing will be divvied up for new projects. 

Proposals: Martinez proposes earmarking about $112 million in bond proceeds for water projects across the state. The governor also recommends creatinga  new fund that can provide emergency assistance to communities with drinking water problems. The Legislative Finance Committee has recommended $10 million in bond financing for highway maintenance and $6 million for a road to the state's spaceport.


Backdrop: Public schools, colleges and universities get nearly $3 out of every $5 in the operating budget. The high school graduation rate was 70 percent in the last school year, and nearly half of graduates enrolling in state colleges in 2011 and 2012 required remedial courses.

Proposals: Martinez will renew a proposal to require schools to hold back third-graders who can't read proficiently. Some Democrats and a coalition of social advocacy groups want to earmark part of the yearly payout from a state permanent fund to provide more money for early-childhood education. Lawmakers also will consider ways to shore up a lottery-financed college scholarship program. Some proposals would change the program to make the aid need-based and provide a flat dollar amount for scholarships. 

The Associated Press

Session dates - 2014

• December 16, 2013 - January 17 Legislation may be prefiled

• January 21 Opening day (noon)

• February 5 Deadline for introduction

• February 20 Session ends (noon)

• March 12 Legislation not acted upon by governor is pocket vetoed

• May 21 Effective date of legislation not a general appropriation bill or a bill carrying an emergency clause or other specified date

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