Thursday News Roundup: AG Won't Challenge Same-sex Marriage Licenses And More...

Aug 22, 2013

AG Won't Challenge Same-sex Marriage Licenses - The Associated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Gary King says he will not challenge a move by the Dona Ana County clerk to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

King told reporters Wednesday that he didn't believe state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage were constitutional.

He also said he would not challenge any other county clerk who issued licenses.

Still, King warned that those marriages could be invalid if the state Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage is not allowed in New Mexico.

The Dona Ana County clerk began issuing same-sex marriage licenses Wednesday after he said his review of state law allowed him to do so.

Couples immediately began arriving at a Las Cruces courthouse to receive licenses amid pending court challenges elsewhere in the state.

Audit Suggests Special Education Funding Overhaul - The Associated Press

Legislative auditors are recommending New Mexico revamp special education financing because the current system creates incentives for schools to gain more funding by identifying students for greater services.

About $500 million is spent annually on special education, but a report issued Wednesday by Legislative Finance Committee staff said schools are penalized if they find less costly ways of helping students.

The state provides aid based on a school's determination of the services required for students with disabilities, with more money for those with greater needs.

The report recommends basing special education aid on a school's total enrollment.

Auditors said if funding was based on a national average of special education students, about 15 school districts would lose money, including $8 million for Albuquerque, and aid would increase for 26 districts.

Union Wants State Buildings Tested For Hazards - The Associated Press

A public employees union is asking Gov. Susan Martinez's administration to test state buildings near downtown Santa Fe for possible environmental contamination to determine whether it's a source of worker health problems.

Communications Workers of America local president Donald Alire said Wednesday that workers in the Public Education Department and other agencies have complained of respiratory problems and other illnesses for several years.

The union wants testing for hazardous vapors that could seep into the buildings from possible contamination in the soil and groundwater from leaking gasoline storage tanks, dry cleaners and other businesses that in the past were in the area.

A General Services Department spokesman said the agency is reviewing a government environmental report released by the union that identified areas with a high risk of potential contamination.

NM Revenues Projected To Grow By $296M Next Year - The Associated Press

A new financial report forecasts that $296 million in revenue will be available next year in New Mexico, potentially allowing a 5 percent spending increase on public education and other government programs.

The latest revenue projections were released Wednesday to the Legislative Finance Committee, which was meeting in Chama.

Martinez administration officials said in written testimony that New Mexico should collect nearly $6.2 billion in the fiscal year starting in July 2014. That's $296 million higher than spending in the current budget.

However, Finance and Administration Secretary Tom Clifford said in an interview that some of the new money should be saved and used to rebuild the state's cash reserves, which will drop because this year's revenues are forecast to be $73 million lower than what was previously expected.