Sanchez touts importance of small business

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Lt. Gov.-Elect John Sanchez came to Clovis Thursday morning for a listening session at the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce.

In the face of promises that could prove daunting come 2011, New Mexico’s next lieutenant governor made one he hoped would be easier to keep.

Sanchez, while stopping in Clovis Thursday morning on a statewide listening tour, said he wants to be the most accessible lieutenant governor New Mexico has had.

“That’s my commitment and promise,” Sanchez said.

The former legislator was asked early on how the administration of Gov.-Elect Susana Martinez was going to solve the state’s upcoming deficit, estimated at $450 million, while upholding campaign promises to neither cut education or Medicare nor raise taxes.

Sanchez said the Legislature had some tough work ahead, as did the Martinez administration, but he didn’t want to speak for either. He did say items like the film production tax credit and tourism advertising would be studied, and kept if they are fiscally reasonable.

In his opinion, Sanchez said, tourism was a good investment because every $1 spent in tourism advertising brings back $40 from out-of-state visitors. As far as the film credit, he said a task force may be created to see if the film tax credit is a benefit.

Following the meeting, he reiterated an unwillingness to say which, if any, programs or tax credits could be eliminated.

“Until we have the opportunity to be sworn in,” Sanchez said, “we’re going to hold off on specifics.”

He said things he could commit to were:

• Scaling back New Mexico’s “pit rule,” which requires that drilling operations follow specific procedures to ensure that groundwater doesn’t become contaminated by drilling operations. Sanchez calls it unnecessary government regulation that makes New Mexico less attractive to oil and gas producers.