There are 27 hours left in the 2013 legislative session. And there are still some big bills out there waiting to be passed in each chamber — just sitting there on the House or Senate agenda. And if they are not passed (with identical language) in both chambers by noon tomorrow, they are done.
Dead. Nothing else can be done for them this year — well except for the special session that is increasingly inevitable. But let’s keep our eye on the Saturday at noon deadline for now.
The budget is done — but facing the promised veto pen of Gov. Susana Martinez.
One thing to remember: If a bill isn’t on the floor of the second chamber, it just doesn’t have the time to navigate that second chamber without some superhuman lifting by all parties involved.
Here are some (obviously not all) of the other bills that aren’t so lucky and still haven’t been sent up to the Fourth floor as the Senate gets ever closer to sine die.
The omnibus tax bill is another bill that the legislature and governor don’t see eye-to-eye on. A big sticking point is at what rate the state should cut the corporate income tax rate.
The legislative budget that just cleared the Senate Finance Committee has a cut on the income tax credit from the current 7.6 percent to 6.9 percent the next fiscal year then 6.4 percent the following year. This is to cushion the fiscal blow of the decreased revenues over two years.
The governor, however, wants it lowered to 4.9 percent — equal to the top personal income tax rate.
There are other small changes, but they could all add up to a veto — particularly if Martinez wants the issue decided in the special session.
Minimum Wage increase
A minimum wage increase has been described as a key part of the Democrats’ fiscal package in much the same way that the corporate income tax cut has been a key part of Martinez’s economic plan.
The bill worked its way through the House and was amended. Then the Senate went and amended the bill again — meaning it has two different versions. Again, all bills must pass both chambers with identical language.
But before that comes into play, the bill has to clear the Senate. Then the House can see if they will concur with the changes — and send it to the governor’s desk where it will almost assuredly face a veto.
The Public Employees Retirement Association pension fix passed the Senate earlier this week. The governor has made comments praising the deal, but she still has some concerns. Again, the three-dimensional chess that comes with the looming special session means the governor may choose to veto it and push for something closer to her vision.
But there is another pension elephant in the room — the Educational Retirement Board. That bill sits in Senate Finance where it may stay until the end of the session unless the Senate Finance Committee can come to an agreement and get it through the Senate quickly. Again, if there are any changes… it goes back to the House for them to agree.
Health care exchange
Legislation to create a health care exchange cleared the Senate — but the House amended the legislation on their side. This means if it goes through the House and passes it — again — needs to be concurred by the Senate.
There are whispers that it will be fast-tracked because legislators want to have something to pass — even if it isn’t the perfect legislation. Which means a quick concurrence could be in the cards.
Lottery scholarship fix
The lottery scholarship has been incredibly popular, sending high school seniors to state schools as college freshman. But it is a victim of its own success, as it is running out of money.
So the legislature decided to use some tobacco fund money to close the gap. This has passed the Senate and is on the House floor — which means it has the time to pass if the political will (and votes) is there. Whether or not the governor will sign the bill if it can pass the House is up in the air.
Early Childhood Education Funding
A bill to fund early childhood education with money from the state permanent fund is stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Powerful committee chair Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, says he won’t schedule it for a vote because it doesn’t have the votes.
This is a big initiative by Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, but with Smith unwilling to put it forward to his committee, the constitutional amendment will remain bottled up — and will likely die on adjournment without ever getting a hearing there.
A gaming compact with the Navajo Nation is in limbo and legislators say they need more time to analyze the compact that was given to them with just over a week left in the session.
It passed the newly created Committee on Compacts (which was controversial in itself since Sen. John Pinto, D-Gallup is not a voting member) but the committee chair George Muñoz, D-Gallup, says he isn’t sure that he will introduce it to the full Legislature for approval.
This means it is an ideal candidate to be part of a special session call by the governor.
Filed under: Budget, Economy, Education, Featured, Governor, Health, New Mexico House, New Mexico Senate · Tags: Corporate income tax, Early Childhood Education, ERB, health care exchange, Lottery Scholarship, Minimum wage increase, Navajo Nation, Pension reform, PERA