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New Mexico Telegram » Budget, Economy, Education, Featured, Governor, LGBT, Roundhouse » Martinez faces criticism over domestic partner benefits, tobacco permanent fund vetoes

Martinez faces criticism over domestic partner benefits, tobacco permanent fund vetoes

Gov. Susana Martinez’s final legislative actions open herself to criticism from frequent critics in the gay rights area — but also from the New Mexico chapter of the American Cancer Society.

The veto that drew the ire of the American Cancer Society was a line-item veto related to the tobacco permanent fund.

Martinez line-item vetoed a provision to transfer $50 million to the Tobacco Settlement Permanent Fund — an amount of money that New Mexico gets from settlements with tobacco companies.

“By vetoing the transfer of monies to the tobacco permanent fund, Governor Martinez created a self-imposed obstacle for future health and tobacco control efforts in the state,” said ACS CAN’s State Lead Ambassador Lynda Evans Ricci. “The only beneficiaries of this veto are tobacco companies and the cancer-causing products they will continue to ply in the state due to a lack of committed tobacco control resources.”

“I have vetoed the part of SB113 that would have transferred $50 million from the General Fund Operating Reserve to the Tobacco Settlement Permanent Fund,” Martinez said in her veto statement. “Keeping that money in the General Fund Operating Reserve provides greater flexibility to respond to an unexpected decrease in revenue. This is the primary and critical purpose of the General Fund Operating Reserve”

The money would have come from the general fund to make up for times the payments to the general fund were stopped to help the rest of the state budget. The bill still takes money from the fund for various education initiatives.

Martinez vetoed a bill that would provide for the expedited licensing of domestic partners of veterans — even as she signed a bill that would have done the same for spouses. New Mexico has no laws regarding same-sex marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples.

A spokesman for the governor’s office told several news outlets:

“The language in the Senate bill did not meet federal guidelines and definitions as established by the Department of Defense,” Knell said in an email to HuffPost. “In fact, there was no definition in the legislation at all — for a term that has been defined and interpreted several different ways in state and federal law. If the bill had met federal guidelines and definitions, she would have signed it.”

The veto was first noticed by ProgressNow New Mexico, a progressive non-profit advocacy group that is a frequent critic of Martinez.

“In the post-‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ era, openly gay service members are proudly serving and dying for our country. And their partners back home bear the same burdens as their straight neighbors,” says Pat Davis of ProgressNow New Mexicoe.

“The rest of the country has moved forward and understands the sacrifice our proud gay service members make. There is no excuse in today’s age for signing a bill that intentionally thumbs one’s nose at our gay soldiers unless you believe that their service and sacrifice is somehow less important.”

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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