Who wins when everybody loses?
It’s the question many may be asking when this session wraps up because when all is said and done, you may find neither side got much of anything they wanted this year.
Why the doom and gloom after a session that seemed to start with one compromise after the other (gun control, spaceport being the two that come to mind immediately)?
It comes from taking an honest look at where proposals for both Democrats and Republicans sit.
Let’s look at the Republican side first, specifically from Governor Martinez’s perspective.
The State of the State address that opened up this session had a main theme of competitiveness. Highlighted proposals included a corporate tax rate cut from 7.6 percent to 4.9 percent and allowing businesses to base their corporate taxes on a single sales factor.
That paired with several key education proposals including merit pay for teachers and mandatory retention for third graders who can’t read among others.
Add to all of that the annual push to repeal the law that allows illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses.
From the Democratic side, there’s plenty they were looking to get done as well.
Pay raises for state workers and teachers was a priority. So was increasing the minimum wage and expanding the film tax credits the state currently issues. On the education side, reforming the A-F grading system used to evaluate schools was one of the proposals pitched.
So what’s happened on all of these issues?
Driver’s licenses appears to be going nowhere fast and would seem an incredible long shot to get done this session after stalling in a House committee. The third grade reading retention proposal never got even that far.
Merit pay was originally in the House version of the budget but was pulled out by the Senate. Even though that budget passed the Senate unanimously, House Republicans say they’ll fight the House agreeing with those amendments Wednesday.
On the Senate side, the Governor’s tax reforms were bundled together with a Democratic proposal she vetoed last year dealing with cutting exemptions for out-of-state companies. In addition, the corporate tax cut proposed would drop the state rate down to 6.4 percent, well below what the Governor wants. The Governor’s office has said they won’t support that bill either and called it “gimmicky”.
All of that has led to the threat from the Governor to veto the budget in its current form, which would kill teacher pay raises in the process.
It’s also led to a Dem-backed film tax credit bill (the Breaking Bad bill) that had bipartisan support in passing both chambers being left in limbo on the Governor’s desk with a veto not out of the question.
That adds to expected vetoes on minimum wage and any attempt to alter the A-F system PED implemented.
Add it all up and unless there’s some significant compromise in the last four days of the session (don’t hold your breath), we could be in for a special session after a 60-day session.
Of course, this could all be just one big game of chicken and a deal could be cut.
The answer is only four long days away.
Bill of the Day
Rep. Georgene Louis’, D-Albuquerque, bill would give employers an alternative to layoffs by allowing them to cut hours of a group of employees instead.
HB 325 squeaked by the House and is heading for the Senate.