Staff and wire reports
SANTA FE — Gov. Bill Richardson vetoed a $348 million capital outlay package on Wednesday and used his line-item veto powers to reject some legislator-backed projects in a $21 million budget measure.
The governor took his action before a deadline in a dispute with the Legislature over the deadline for signing or vetoing the measures.
The potential showdown with the Legislature came the day before lawmakers were to adjourn the 30-day session.
The Legislature claimed — and the attorney general agreed — the bill deadline was Wednesday evening. Just after 6 p.m., the legislation would “automatically become law,” Attorney General Gary King said.
The governor had contended his deadline was this morning, but he went ahead and acted on the measures before the Wednesday deadline.
The governor’s chief of staff, James Jimenez, said the governor didn’t want the bill deadline dispute to be a distraction from pending issues in the Legislature, particularly health care. He reiterated that the administration viewed the deadline as today.
Gilbert Gallegos, a spokesman for the governor, said Richardson vetoed the capital outlay bill because he didn’t have enough time to carefully review the thousands of projects and decide which ones should be funded or rejected.
“It is unreasonable for the Legislature, which took four weeks to pass the capital outlay bill, to demand that the governor review and take action on it in just three days — while simultaneously taking action on the GO bonds, the budget bill and junior budget bills,” said Gallegos. “This political gamesmanship is a disservice to New Mexicans who expect their elected leaders to work together to move the state forward.”
Curry County has about $3.1 million riding on the capital outlay bill, including $850,000 for construction of a Special Events Center and $350,000 for a communications building that would house emergency management personnel.
Roosevelt County will lose $2.2 million if capital outlay is not approved, including $495,000 for county road improvements and $350,000 for a weight training facility at Eastern New Mexico University.
“I’m sorry the governor did that,” said State Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales. “He’s trying to make some of the Senate members vote the way he wants them to on some issues. There’s several things involved.
“But we’ll get there. There’s always time to fix things.”
The Legislature had sent Richardson a number of budget and capital improvement measures. The governor signed the main $6 billion budget bill on Tuesday. Pending is a bill that provides bond financing of nearly $224 million in capital improvements, including buildings at colleges and universities. The projects financed by general obligation bonds require the approval of voters in the November general election.
The so-called “junior budget” bill allocates millions of dollars for pet projects of lawmakers and programs earmarked by Richardson. The governor signed the bill but cut $528,000 with vetoes — all projects earmarked by lawmakers.
The bill, as passed by the Legislature, provided $7 million for projects of House members, $7 million for Senate projects and $7 million for items designated by the governor.
Curry County capital outlay
Project description Money allotted
n Clovis wastewater plant repairs $205,198
n Texico water and wastewater improvement $ 150,000
n Clovis Industrial Park construction $ 200,000
n Curry County Special Events Center construction $ 850,000
n Grady Emergency services equipment/vehicles $303,000
n Melrose Fire Department substation $ 250,000
• Clovis Senior Center vehicles $28,546
• Melrose Senior Center vehicles $ 44,000
• Texico schools technical education $ 50,000
• Melrose lift station and wastewater system expansion $20,000
• Melrose water system improvements $100,000
• Curry County Fairgrounds renovation $20,000
• Curry County Road Department equipment purchases $50,000
• Clovis communications/administration building $350,000
• Clovis Food Bank refrigeration equpiment $20,000
• Clovis Region 4 Housing Authority Building $70,000
• Melrose cemetery expansion/improvements $20,000
• Melrose health care clinic, purchase and construction $60,000
• Texico Fire/Police Depts. storage/maintenance building $20,000
• Curry County road improvement $174,000
• Clovis streets improvement $25,000
• Clovis Community College phone system upgrade $113,000
Source: N.M. Legislature Web site