From the Roundhouse: Work and Pork

February 25th, 2013 at 7:20 pm by under Latest Posts, Politics

Monday morning, Democrats championed a deal with Republicans and Governor Martinez on a nearly $125 million capital outlay spending package.

Although the Governor’s office says they still need to review each of the projects included more fully before giving the bill an endorsement, there is some appearance of a deal in principle.

The bill was pitched as a big shot in the arm for infrastructure, construction and state jobs.

It certainly does provide millions of dollars there. State prisons would be renovated, senior centers statewide would get new equipment, dams would be fixed, police stations would be built and a Spaceport access road would be created.

The bill certainly does many good things for the state, but there are two untold stories.

One, not all of that money is being directly spent on shovel-ready, infrastructure projects that create jobs.

$6 million is earmarked for the Secretary of State to buy and install new voting tabulators. Critically important certainly, but not exactly bulldozer stuff.

The same could be said for $10 million allocated to the State Engineer’s Office to pay settlements in several water rights cases involving Native American tribes.

Even some money that might create jobs could be considered controversial. Check out this Larry Barker story. The jobs bill is being used to patch up those problems. $5.8 million is earmarked to pay for a new animal tissue digester and building repairs.

The second untold part is that while nearly $125 million is included in the deal, there’s about $100 million state lawmakers each get a slice of in capital outlay funding.

That money is where Governor Martinez made many of her cuts last year. It’s unclear just which projects are included in that bill that could draw the Governor’s wrath this time around.

Bill of the Day

HB 524

Rep. Nate Cote’s, D-Organ, bill is not the bill of the day because it is particularly interesting in and of itself but because it was nearly hijacked. The bill aims at establishing more early voting locations in rural counties.

But a Republican representative attempted to resurrect a long-dead attempt at requiring ID to vote through a floor substitute for the bill. That led to a lengthy floor debate that ultimately resulted in 38 votes cast to table the committee substitute.

Cote’s original bill passed soon after, but it’s a reminder to always keep an eye out for sudden fights on the floor.

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