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New Mexico Telegram » Budget, Featured, Governor » Martinez signs budget; keeps state worker raises intact

Martinez signs budget; keeps state worker raises intact

Gov. Susana Martinez signed the state budget with some line-item vetoes — not part of those vetoes, somewhat surprisingly, were one percent raises for state workers.

Martinez also signed the capital outlay bills and a public employee pension fix that is designed to keep the program from going broke.

“As I said when the Senate passed it, this budget is not perfect, in that it shortchanges the New Mexico Reads to Lead program, support for our most effective teachers, and several economic development tools,” said Martinez in a statement announcing her final action on legislation. “But the fundamentals of this budget are strong. It restrains state spending to a responsible level and ensures that we have strong reserves during uncertain economic times.

Martinez again lauded the omnibus tax bill that she signed on Thursday.

“And with the enactment of our bipartisan jobs package, New Mexico is poised to better compete for jobs and economic development,” Martinez said in a statement.

In the governor’s message to the legislature on her legislative action, which happens when there is a veto or line-item veto on any legislation.

Martinez was critical of the final legislation, saying the changes by the Senate were not bipartisan and mentioned the bloc of Republicans voted against the legislation.

Martinez was also unhappy that certain programs were not funded to the extent she wanted — she mentioned the Job Training Incentive Program, the Local Economic Development Act funding and lack of funding for a teacher merit-pay pilot program.

She cited these as reasons she vetoed a $20 million appropriation to the Higher Education Endowment Fund.

She also blamed the Obama administration for the sequester which has created some pain for the state — most recently with $26 million from royalty payments from mineral leasing.

“This budget sets aside $17 million in anticipation of sequestration cuts,” Martinez wrote. “Unfortunately, this amount is already eclipsed by the royalty payment cuts, and we anticipate the possibility of future reductions in state revenues.”

As for the capital outlay, Martinez line-item vetoed just $4 million from the more-than $200 million bill.

“I am still disappointed, however, that so many legislators continued to use a grab bag approach to capital outlay,” the governor said. “Despite much talk about ‘shovel ready’ projects during the legislative session, legislators still included local projects in the bill that are anything but ‘shovel ready.'”

The PERA solvency bill, which was backed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees council 18 which represents public workers, was a bone of contention for years. This year, it passed.

It will permanently reduce the cost-of-living adjustment to two percent from three percent, increase the eligibility date for COLA from two to seven years after retirement, keeping the worker contribution at 8.92 percent and increasing the state’s contribution to 0.40 percent.

This is all to head off a $6.2 billion shortfall in the pension plan.

“I don’t think anybody got what they wanted out of this PERA reform package, but I agree with the Board that their job is to protect the retirement fund and ensure the fund is solvent and healthy and able to pay benefits for generations to come,” Martinez said.

Written by

Matthew Reichbach has blogged about New Mexico politics since 2006. Matthew was a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation. In addition to politics, Matthew is an avid sports fan, especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and TV fan.

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