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New Mexico Telegram » Budget, Featured, Governor » Gov. signs budget but line item vetoes some pay raises

Gov. signs budget but line item vetoes some pay raises

Susana MartinezGov. Susana Martinez signed the $6.15 billion state budget on Tuesday. Martinez signed the budget in Rio Rancho.

“Over the past three years, we have worked in a bipartisan way to restore our state’s firm fiscal footing after years of over-spending, and the budgets we have passed have enacted moderate, responsible spending growth,” Martinez said in a statement. “Along the way, we have invested heavily in public education and early childhood programs, expanded job creation efforts, and provided for a strong safety net to help the most vulnerable.”

While she signed the budget — a compromise between the the House and Senate that had a tortuous path through the legislature — she did make some line-item vetoes of items.

“However, as I noted earlier, it is my responsibility to ensure that government spending does not grow at an unsustainable rate,” Martinez wrote in her executive message on the budget. “As I noted during the session, I believe the budget passed by the legislature overs spends, as it increases recurring spending by $278 million (or 4.7%), nearly exhausting every penny of available new money on new recurring costs. In addition, it approved over $60 million in one-time spending, significantly drawing down our State savings account.”

Martinez line-item vetoed mandatory pay raises for level two and level three teachers, though she left a mandate for a $2,000 pay raise for level one teachers in the budget. The money is still available for the pay raises, but districts are not required to do so.

In all, Martinez line-item vetoed $27 million in expenditures, including some pay raises. Classified state employees and higher education workers received their raises, but vetoed pay raises for executive branch appointees, district attorneys and and 8 percent raise for elected judges.

Other vetoes include $15 million to the public education budget for items that don’t go into effect until 2016, $4 million to the Higher Education Endowment Fund and a $45 million transfer of lottery funds to the tobacco settlement fund.

Martinez says the money for the public education budget “would simply go to the bureaucracy and not go towards its intended objective.” The budget said this money would go towards services for at-risk students.

Martinez also vetoed various requirements that executive departments issue reports to legislative interim committees.

This appears to be what Martinez is referring to in the following section of her executive message:

I also vetoed some conditions that exceeded the Legislature’s limited authority to attach reasonable conditions to appropriations. Some of these conditions also amounted to general policy that ought to be enacted outside the General Appropriation Act of 2014.

The budget took an odd path this year. After a tie vote on the House floor — in large part thanks to two missing Democratic members of the House — the House sent it back to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee. At this time, the Senate began working on their version of the legislation.

For the first time in anyone’s memory, the budget originated in the Senate and went to the House.

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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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