KRWG

Governor Vetoes Critical Investment in Tribal and Pueblo Broadband and Infrastructure Projects

Mar 9, 2018

Credit New Mexico In Depth

 Commentary: Governor Martinez line-item vetoed numerous measures to invest in Native communities and infrastructure in tribes and pueblos across New Mexico, from the annual budget. These investments, included in House Bill 2, would have expanded broadband access, helped close the achievement gap, improved emergency communications, diversified local economies, and invested in water projects.

Specifically, the line-item vetoes included:

·        A state match to leverage an $8 million federal allocation for broadband in rural, underserved areas in central and western New Mexico, including Cochiti Pueblo, Santo Domingo Pueblo, San Felipe and Santa Ana Pueblos, and the town of Bernalillo west to Zia and Jemez Pueblos;

·        An emergency communications tower to be placed on Jicarilla Apache Nation to provide coverage for unincorporated areas for emergency management, which would cover northern Sandoval County, northwestern Rio Arriba County and eastern San Juan County;

·        Native American Student Services at the University of New Mexico;

·        Important water and infrastructure projects at Zuni, Ohkay Owingeh, and Jemez Pueblos;

·        An Indian Affairs Department study of health services for tribal members; and

·        Other research and academic programs at higher educational institutions.

“It is reckless and irresponsible that Governor Martinez would single out these critical investments in our Native communities that are in serious need,” said House Democratic Caucus Chair D. Wonda Johnson (D-Church Rock). “While the Governor has failed to prioritize tribal communities and their neighbors, we were proud to stand up for them, and we won’t stop fighting so that Native students, schools, and businesses have the tools they need to thrive.”

“After passing this budget bill with broad bipartisan support, I am disappointed to see Governor Martinez specifically line-item veto measures that would help Native communities across New Mexico,” said Rep. Georgene Louis (D-Albuquerque). “These communities, including my own, have historically been underserved, and Governor Martinez doesn’t understand that when Native communities thrive, their local communities and our entire state will succeed.”

These bipartisan investments would have made critical investments in broadband infrastructure for Native-Americans in tribes and pueblos across New Mexico, as well as invest in emergency communications, Native American services, water projects, and health services. New Mexico has one of the highest Native populations in the country, and House Democrats will continue to fight for New Mexico’s most vulnerable and underserved.