Making the rounds

CNJ Staff photo: Andy DeLisle Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, speaks at the Roundhouse Review Chamber Breakfast at Clovis Community College on Friday morning.

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ Staff Writer

State lawmakers gave local business and civic leaders a glimpse into the legislative session that ended March 17 at a Friday breakfast.
The gathering was organized by the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Commerce and Industry of New Mexico. ACI is a statewide business advocacy group that works with state government and lobbies year-round for business development and growth.

“This year I think we did good,” Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, said Friday of the most recent legislative session.

The budget for that session was $5.6 billion, according to legislators. Funds were appropriated for public schools, higher education and tax reform, legislators said. Public schools received $2.5 billion. About $39 million was approved for water projects and $90 million was put toward tax measures, legislators said.

Rep. Anna Crook, R.-Clovis, said low- and middle-income taxpayers and economic developers are among those who will receive tax relief through the measures.

“We’re doing some things that may have been pushed off in the past,” said Rep. Brian K. Moore, R-Clayton.

Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, said national politics dominated the most recent session, as evidenced by the smoking ban and minimum wage raise.

Minimum wage will go to $6.50 in January 2008 and $7.50 in January 2009, with exemptions for agriculture. Higher minimum wages already in effect in Santa Fe and Albuquerque will go untouched. Other cities and counties can’t enact higher wage floors until 2010.
Clovis Industrial Development Corp. President Lee Malloy praised local legislators for their commitment to economic development in Clovis.

“My goal as a senator is to represent the people the best I can,” Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, said.

“Please let me know when you need my attention on something,” he said.