Commentary: SANTA FE – Governor Susana Martinez today handed down a funding cut to New Mexico’s court system that jeopardizes the state’s jury trials and funding for court interpreters.
The “Feed Bill” (HB1) for this year’s legislative session (the bill passed every year to pay legislative staffers and fund state expenses during the session) also included emergency funding for New Mexico’s courts. The court system is estimated to run out of money for jury trials and court interpreters by March without emergency funding.
The bill included $800,000 in funding the courts need to keep these operations afloat. Gov. Martinez today line-item vetoed that funding – the third time she has done so since the original Feed Bill was sent to her. Legislative Appropriation records show, however, that Gov. Martinez spent over $206,000 dollars remodeling her office last year.
“While Gov. Martinez didn’t see fit to spend $800,000 to fix a crisis in a critically important state function like our court system, she had no problem signing off on over $200,000 in upgrades to the governor’s office last year,” said Alex Curtas of ProgressNow New Mexico. “And such a contrast in spending priorities can’t help but bring to mind the $80,000 slush fund Gov. Martinez was criticized for in 2015 that was used for things like her now-infamous pizza party. A veto like this one shows where her priorities lie and how willing she is to play political games with something like New Mexico’s public safety.”