Santa Fe — The 30 day Legislative Session ended at noon today and concluded a month full of debate, discussion and ended with a new, balanced budget to run state government starting in July.
Many Republican State Senators say it is a good budget that continues to invest in public education, while meeting its financial responsibilities to fund Medicaid. The $5.6 billion dollar budget spends about $220 million more than the current year budget. Much of that 4% increase goes to public schools and Medicaid. The legislature also passed over $280 million in capital outlay for many New Mexico communities.
Passing a balanced budget in the 30 day legislative session, is the only constitutional requirement the legislature has in the even numbered years when the session is held. In addition to passing a budget, education reform and tax breaks to encourage economic development in the state were hotly debated during the session. Senators predicted that the bills that did not pass regarding education reform, tax reductions to encourage economic development and stopping illegal immigrants from receiving New Mexico driver’s licenses will be back.
“We had a very deliberative session and we have produced a good budget for the state,” Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle said. “It is disappointing that we were not able stop the state from issuing driver’s licenses to people who come to our state illegally. Many come here solely to get our license to be used as a legitimate form of identification to be able to travel freely around our country. I dread the day one of our New Mexico licenses is used by someone who was not here legally to do great harm against our country and our against our people. I fear New Mexico will deservedly receive the rage of the world.”
A number of bills passed the Senate, while some bills that many of the Republican Senators wanted were killed or were not even presented on the Senate floor.
The House bill to stop the practice of issuing driver’s licenses to people who are in the state illegally was not even able to be debated on the Senate floor.
All Republican Senators voted against a Senate bill that would have allowed licenses to be given to people here illegally and would have required them to apply each year for the driver’s license.
A major bill to fight corruption passed both the Senate and the House and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
Senate Minority Whip Bill Payne’s bill (R-Albuquerque) would fine an official found guilty of a felony related to his or her job the amount of the salary and fringe benefits they would have been entitled to if they had not been corrupt in office.
A bill to help fight crime, by helping to curtail the theft of metal by tightening requirements when dealing in metal materials in on the governor’s desk.
Other Republican Senator Comments:
“We will continue to work to intervene when our students in K-3 do not meet proficiency in reading. The goal is to prevent retention by providing appropriate support and remediation to ensure that students learn to read in K-3rd grade and read to learn 4th through 12th,” Senator Gay Kernan (R-Hobbs) said.
“No budget is perfect, but this budget takes a step in the right direction,” Senator Bill Burt (R-Alamogordo) said at the close of the session. “While maintaining the state’s balanced budget, it provides for most of our current needs. It increases education and Medicaid spending while providing significant money to municipalities for much needed projects.”
“Usually the Legislature does things “to” people – not “for” them, so less is better. This year we passed a few critical items that are good for New Mexico and avoided the bad things. Sometimes less is better,” Senator Bill Sharer (R-Farmington) said.
“I was pleased with the FY 2013 budget passed in the session. It will restore 1.75% increase to our educators and all state employees. It will increase funding to both Pre-K thru grade 12 as well as funding to New Mexico Junior College, Hobbs, NMSU-Carlsbad and all state funded higher education. While the increases are modest they were accomplished without tax increases,” Senator Carroll Leavell (R-Jal) said. “I was very pleased Senate Bill 23 passed the Senate and House and is on the Governor’s desk. This will permit Urenco and the nuclear power generating companies to exchange the ownership of uranium hexafluoride in New Mexico free of gross receipts or compensating tax. While this was a technical clean up, it would severely limit the ability of Urenco to operate in New Mexico.”
“Economic development is the key element for New Mexico to recover from the economic downfall over the past few years,” Senator Vernon Asbill (R-Carlsbad) said. Even though education will receive approximately 4% new funding, we still lag behind in sufficient funding for our public schools. The future of our great state rests squarely on the shoulders of our educators who are teaching our future -- our children. There was consorted effort to reform our educational system but fell for short of consensus as the time ran out in the session. We will continue to work on school reform and improvement.”
“This is a good budget that continues to invest in public education, while meeting its financial responsibilities to fund Medicaid,” Senator Clint Harden (R-Clovis) said. “This is the first time in the ten years I have been here that we did not spend all the money! Both Senate bills I introduced on behalf of the Corrections Department were defeated. Senate Bill 176 which would have enhanced the system for victim notification was killed in committee. Senate Bill 162, designed to improve public safety by allowing for more offenders released from prison to go into an intensive supervision program, was killed on the floor.”