NM Governor And Democrats Meet Over Budget, Unemployment Rate Stable

May 19, 2017

New Mexico Governor, Democrats Meet Over Budget Stalemate- Associated Press

Republican Governor Susana Martinez says she's confident agreements will eventually be reached with Democrats as New Mexico looks to solve a budget crisis.

The governor's office says Martinez met Friday with Democratic leadership from the House and Senate.

They discussed restoring funding for higher education, but there appears to still be an impasse over taxes.

The governor reiterated that she won't support any stand-alone tax hikes but that she's hopeful lawmakers will start talking about overall tax reform.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth has said both sides of the aisle support reform but that the state needs to raise new revenues to fund government services.

Some of the pressure on elected leaders has eased now that state finance officials announced an uptick in tax revenues this week.

New Mexico State Tax Revenue Rebounds In MarchAssociated Press

A monthly report from New Mexico finance officials shows a rebound in state tax revenue after a prolonged downward slide.

A report from the Legislative Finance Committee on Thursday says state tax revenues in March increased by about 14 percent from the previous year to $516 million.

Signs of a recovery in state tax income are easing pressure on state lawmakers as they prepare for a special session next week to balance the budget for the coming fiscal year. Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed a variety of tax increases and is seeking further belt tightening by state government.

The March revenue increase was driven by gross receipts taxes on sales and business services that rose to $163 million, up by $20 million from the previous year.

State economists attributed that tax boost to slow economic growth an oil-industry recovery. Overall tax income for the current fiscal year still trails last year by nearly 2 percent.

Family Of New Mexico Woman Shot By Officer In 2013 Paid $3M- Associated Press

Released court documents show the state had paid the family of a New Mexico woman fatally shot by a state officer $3 million to keep them from filing a civil lawsuit.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Thursday that the family had been paid nine months after a grand jury decided the officer's shooting had been justified in 2013.

The New Mexican had requested settlement records in 2015, but officials delayed the release of the documents three years from the date of Anaya's death, citing a statute allowing payouts to be kept private.

Officer Oliver Wilson had been on the job a few weeks when he fired 16 bullets at 39-year-old Jeanette Anaya's vehicle as she fled. Two bullets hit her — one in her head and one in her back.

Old Document Sheds Light On Lawman Who Killed Billy The Kid- Associated Press

Officials in a southern New Mexico county have found a century-old document inside a box of unarchived records that sheds light on the death of the Old West lawman who gained fame for killing Billy the Kid.

Dona Ana County officials say the 1908 coroner's jury report refers to the investigation of the death of former Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett.

Historians long-looked for official documents assigning blame for Garrett's mysterious shooting.

The county says a filing supervisor was combing through unarchived records as part of a preservation effort last fall when she found the handwritten document. Pointing to its value, the county is seeking more grant funding for its preservation work.

The document is locked away in a safety deposit box. The county plans a public unveiling next month.

Design Sketches For Route 66 Neon Signs Rescued, PreservedAssociated Press

Hundreds of design sketches for some of Route 66's most memorable neon signs in New Mexico's largest city and other spots along the famous road have been preserved and are now part of a university's special collection.

Two professors teamed up to rescue the colorful, hand-drawn midcentury designs from a cache of old business records at an Albuquerque sign-making shop after they were deemed a fire hazard.

Mark Childs is an associate dean and professor at the University of New Mexico's school of architecture. He and associate sculpture professor Ellen Babcock turned the find into a book in 2016. New Mexico preservation officials honored the two last week for their work to salvage the historic drawings.

The professors say the designs marked the beginnings of what would become touchstones and mementos for travelers and people who lived along the highway.

Funding For Lottery Scholarships Lags By Nearly $8MAssociated Press

New Mexico lottery officials say transfers to the state's lottery scholarship program through April are lagging by nearly $8 million compared to the same time last year.

They're also projecting a return of about $37.5 million to the scholarship fund this fiscal year. That's about $9 million less than the previous year.

New Mexico has struggled in recent years to find a solution to solvency problems with the program, which provides scholarships for tens of thousands of students through lottery revenues.

Higher education officials have warned that the amount of the scholarships could be reduced.

Lottery Chairman Dan Salzwedel blames artificial barriers for keeping the lottery from maximizing sales. He pointed to an existing requirement that a certain percentage of lottery sales be funneled to the scholarship program rather than be used to bolster sales through higher payouts.

States Make Legal Move In Fight Over Health Care ReformAssociated Press

Democrats in California, New York and other states, including New Mexico, are trying to intervene in a federal lawsuit that threatens to undercut funding for the Affordable Care Act.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Thursday that the states want to step into the case in federal court in Washington to protect care for millions of Americans.

At issue is how the Trump administration will handle the pending lawsuit over billions of dollars in insurance subsidies.

The lawsuit was filed by House Republicans against the Obama administration and challenged the constitutionality of the aid payments estimated at $7 billion this year.

Ending the payments could disrupt life for millions of people with coverage.

Becerra says there is no way to predict the direction of the Trump White House.

Brooklyn Writer Woodson To Speak At New Mexico Event- Associated Press

An Albuquerque bookstore and the Albuquerque Public Library Foundation have announced writer Jacqueline Woodson will be the featured speaker for their literary fundraiser.

The National Book Award-winning author will speak on June 13 at the KiMo Theater in Albuquerque and discuss her new book, Another Brooklyn.

Woodson is the bestselling author of more than two dozen award-winning books for young adults, including the New York Times bestselling memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming.

The Brooklyn writer also is a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner.

The Albuquerque bookstore, Bookworks, is sponsoring the event.

Los Alamos Lab Starts Treatment Of 60 Drums Of Nitrate Salts- Associated Press

Workers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have started treating 60 drums of remediated nitrate salts.

They plan to treat about one drum per day and have the job completed this summer.

The drums contain an incompatible combination of nitrate salt waste mixed with an organic absorbent added during repackaging to absorb liquids and neutralize the combustible characteristic of the salts.

The drums need to be treated to be safely disposed of at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the nation's only underground nuclear repository.

The Carlsbad plant was forced to close in February 2014 after an improperly packed drum of waste from Los Alamos ruptured and caused a radiation release.

Shipments of waste only recently began making their way to the plant for disposal.

New Mexico County Could Lose Millions With Proposed Food TaxDaily Times, Associated Press

Officials in San Juan County say the outcome of an upcoming special legislative session could force drastic changes in the county's own budget.

The Daily Times reported Wednesday that County Commission Chairman Jack Fortner says the county's budget will be contingent on what lawmakers and the governor do next week.

Legislators will be discussing so-called hold harmless payments, which are given to local governments in place of food tax revenue.

Gov. Susana Martinez has considered bringing back a food tax, which would eliminate the need for the hold harmless payments.

County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter says the county could lose $2 million if the move goes through. He says there are contingency plans in the works if the payments end and the county is unable to collect food tax.

Expert Says New Mexico Police Did Not Alter Shooting VideosAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A police expert says the video evidence from a New Mexico fatal police shooting was not tampered with.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Wednesday on the copy of the January report by expert Grant Fredericks it obtained from the city.

The report is part of the ongoing investigation into Mary Hawkes' 2014 shooting. Former Albuquerque officer Jeremy Dear says he shot the 19-year-old after she pointed a gun at him. Fredericks' report supports Dear's claim.

The Journal reported that the expert working for Hawkes' family suspected that the video evidence had been altered. Fredericks' report claims the videos filed as evidence are the original recordings.

City officials have said that all relevant video footage has been made public.

Nine Years After Recession Began, Some States Still Unrecovered - By Jeff Amy, Associated Press

Call them the unrecovered — a handful of states where job markets, nine years later, are still struggling back to where they were before the recession.

That's true in Mississippi, where job numbers and the overall size of the economy remain below 2008 levels. It's also true in states including Alabama, Michigan, New Mexico, and West Virginia, which remain below pre-recession job levels by multiple measures. That contrasts with states including Colorado, where employment numbers have sprinted ahead. Nationwide, job numbers surpassed pre-recession peaks in 2014.

Growth has long lagged in Mississippi, and jobless rates are high even in good times. Mississippi has the second-lowest share of adults in the labor force of any state, an economy dependent on government employment, and fewer college-educated adults than the national average.

Planned Parenthood To Close 3 Clinics In Northern New MexicoSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains plans to close three clinics in northern New Mexico.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the closures in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Farmington are part of a larger consolidation effort to keep the organization solvent.

However, Planned Parenthood could face even more financial pressure as a result of proposals pending in Congress.

The closures will likely happen in September and would leave Planned Parenthood with two clinics in Albuquerque and one in Santa Fe.

Planned Parenthood officials say about 1,400 patients in Farmington and 1,800 in Rio Rancho may have to transfer to another provider in their community or travel farther to find a Planned Parenthood site.

Man Accused In Fatal Albuquerque Shooting Gets Prison TermAssociated Press

A man arrested in connection with a deadly New Year's Day 2016 shooting in Albuquerque that was fueled by a game of beer pong has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Prosecutors say 24-year-old Luis Delgado pleaded no contest to aggravated battery and aggravated burglary in February and was sentenced Wednesday.

Nathan Ware, another defendant in the case, pleaded guilty last November to second-degree murder and is serving a 20-year prison sentence.

Authorities say Ware fought with two men after a drinking game in which teams throw ping pong balls into beer cups.

Ware later returned to the party and shot the two men. Authorities say one victim later died of his injuries.

Delgado reportedly was on probation for a domestic violence case at the time of the incident.