Regional
9:10 pm
Tue October 20, 2009

NM Senate Democrats Frustrated

New Mexico – Several Democratic Senators are expressing their strong frustration over the limitations imposed on their deliberations by the Governor's Proclamation convening the special session.

The Governor's Proclamation, which spells out the matters the legislature can consider during a special session to fix the state budget deficit, reads very narrowly. The Proclamation specifically states that the matters to be considered "shall not include measures reducing salaries or raising tax rates, reducing or eliminating tax credits, rebates, exemptions or deductions, or imposing new taxes."

"We were not given the opportunity to vote on important options for balancing the budget. While I would not personally support some of the tax options that were introduced and found not germane under the Proclamation, we should at least have had the opportunity to debate those measures and vote on them," said Senator Carlos R. Cisneros (D-Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Santa Fe and Taos), Vice-Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

Senator Richard C. Martinez (D-Los Alamos, Rio Arriba & Santa Fe), Vice-Chair of the Judiciary Committee, echoed the sentiments of Senator Cisneros: "regardless of the merits of the individual revenue measures that were not found germane, we never had an opportunity to weigh their merits or the merits of any other options."

"We needed to have both expenditures and revenues on the table to find a combination would get us to a balanced budget as required by the Constitution," said Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe-25), Vice-Chair of the Senate Rules Committee.

Many other Democratic Senators echoed these remarks. They noted that because of the Governor's Proclamation, they were compelled to vote "no" to considering the taxation measures when the Committees' Committee reported they were not germane because of the language in the Proclamation. "As legislators, our responsibility is to craft a balanced budget. To do that we need to consider all options; we cannot balance the Fiscal Year 2010 budget without somehow generating revenues. That's why I voted for finding some of the tax measures germane in spite of the Proclamation's language - something I see as restricting our constitutional duties," said Senator Bernadette Sanchez (D-Bernalillo-26), Chair of the Senate Conservation Committee.