Governor Eyes Shutdown Over Budget, Veto Override On Teacher Sick Leave Fails

Mar 17, 2017

New Mexico Governor Eyes Shutdown Over Budget-Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is preparing for a state government shutdown amid a budget standoff between the Republican and the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

Martinez chief of staff Keith Gardner said Friday the governor's office is exploring how the shutdown would work and which non-essential agencies will close. The state's cash is expected to run out next month without a balanced budget.

Today, the New Mexico Legislature approved a $6.1 billion budget plan and companion tax increase for the coming fiscal year. However, Martinez has warned that she would not sign any tax increases. Instead, she is asking state lawmakers to agree to certain cuts.

Gardner says the governor was hopeful a budget deal could be reached by noon Saturday. If no agreement is reached, Gardner says Martinez likely will call a special session.

Veto Override Fails On New Mexico Teacher Sick Leave - Associated Press

A veto override attempt has failed in the New Mexico House of Representatives on a bill that would have allowed teachers to take more than three days of annual sick leave without being penalized on performance evaluations.

The vote was 36 to 31, falling short of a two-thirds supermajority needed to override the veto by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

Martinez said the bill threatened to reverse recent reductions in teacher absentee rates and to increase the use of substitutes in classrooms.

The Senate had approved the override in a 34-7 vote. The unusual legislative revolt was led by a fellow Republican Sen. Craig Brandt. He insisted that teachers should not be pressured to work while sick and that local school boards should set sick-leave policy.

AG: Email Scammers Use Name Of New Mexico's Top Judge- Associated Press

If you get an email asking for money from the chief justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, it's a scam.

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office issued a warning today about a new email scam seeking to extort money. The message suggests that recipients need to appear in court or face arrest if they don't pay $750.

The poorly worded email includes Justice Charles Daniels' name and photograph but incorrectly lists his title as court clerk.

Daniels told The Associated Press today that this is the first he has ever heard of someone using his name to perpetrate a scam. With the effort not being very well thought out or orchestrated, he joked that it just might belong in the "Stupid Crooks file."

Authorities say there have been plenty of unscrupulous emails making the rounds in recent years that have impersonated everyone from local police and sheriffs to state Attorney General Hector Balderas. But they say this appears to be the first in which a state Supreme Court justice's name has been tapped.

Balderas' office and the high court are warning people not to respond to the email.

Immigration Judges To Be Sent To Border Detention Centers- Associated Press

The Justice Department said today that it would temporarily transfer immigration judges to six detention centers mostly near the border with Mexico in an effort to put President Donald Trump's immigration directives into effect.

The department's Executive Office for Immigration Review said the transfers to four locations in Texas and one each in Louisiana and New Mexico will occur Monday. Trump's executive order on border and immigration enforcement in January says judges should immediately be assigned to immigration detention centers. Many work in courts where immigrants are freed before their cases are heard.

Trump's executive order also calls for construction of a wall on the 2,000-mile border with Mexico and the addition of 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 10,000 Immigration and Customs and Enforcement officers and agents.

New Mexico's GOP Congressman To Hold Las Cruces Town Hall- Associated Press

The only Republican member of New Mexico's congressional delegation has scheduled a town hall meeting in the Democratic stronghold of Las Cruces.

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce says he'll meet Saturday with constituents in the largest city in his district. The Hobbs Republican recently held town halls in Hobbs and Ruidoso.

Republicans who want to repeal the Obama administration's health care reforms are facing pushback at constituent gatherings from Utah to Tennessee, even in solidly Republican districts.

On Friday, Health secretary Tom Price encouraged divided Republicans to collaborate on an overhaul that GOP leaders can push through the House.

Pearce said earlier this month that Congress has two options — let the current system continue to collapse or take action to replace it with something that is more sustainable.

New Mexico Legislature Says Several Vetoes Don't Count – Associated Press

Democratic leaders of the New Mexico House of Representatives say two recent veto attempts by the governor are invalid.

House Majority Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton announced today shortly after midnight that two bills would go into effect without the governor's signature because vetoes did not include explanatory messages as required.

One House-sponsored bill creates a research program for the industrial production of hemp. The other gives preferences for loans to students at New Mexico medical schools who commit to practice in local communities that need more physicians.

The Senate says three other recent vetoes by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez will not count because of missed deadlines.

Tensions are rising between the Democrat-led Legislature and second-term governor over a budget shortfall, teacher evaluations and confirmation hearings for political appointees.

New Mexico Minimum Wage Bill Heads To Governor – Associated Press

A proposal to increase New Mexico's minimum wage for the first time since 2009 is on its way to the governor's desk.

Yesterday, the Senate approved an increase of the minimum wage by $1.50 to $9 an hour. An $8 hourly training wage would apply to the first two months of employment.

The bill includes no future adjustments for inflation.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has expressed support for a minimum wage hike as long as it is in line with neighboring states, where base wages range from $10 to $7.25.

The state's three largest urban areas — Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Albuquerque — already have local minimums. The highest is $11.09 in Santa Fe.

Trump Budget Proposal Mixed Bag For New Mexico-Associated Press

President Donald Trump's proposed federal budget is a mixed bag for New Mexico, with less money for some domestic programs but more for defense.

One of the poorest states in the nation, New Mexico has struggled to jump start its economy since the recession. And with a downturn in the oil and gas sector, the effects of spending at national laboratories and military bases continue to hold weight in the state.

The National Nuclear Security Administration would see an 11 percent increase, or $1.4 billion. The agency oversees the maintenance and safety of the nuclear arsenal and national labs including Sandia and Los Alamos.

Trump's proposal also calls for providing $6.5 million to advance the Energy Department's cleanup of legacy waste and contamination from decades of research and bomb making.