Local legislators expect stand-off at special session

Local legislators expect stand-off at special session

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At a special Town Hall held at Alma de Arte Charter School May 23, local legislators met with constituents to discuss the special legislative session called by Gov. Susanna Martinez to concerning the state budget and tax reform.
District 36 Sen. Jeff Steinborn, District 36 Rep. Nathan Small and District 35 Rep. Angelica Rubio participated, although Small left early for another event in Hatch.
When asked if they thought issues could be resolved by the special session, the legislators looked grim and the audience laughed.
Rubio said the session will only be open 24 to 36 hours and then the governor has three days to veto any measures passed.
Rubio said she understands the first vote in the House would be to override certain vetoes by Martinez during the general session ending in February.
“We need nine Republicans to vote with us,” she said. “I don’t think we have them.”
In terms of the tax package, Rubio said that, as of May 23, members of the House hadn’t seen it.
“They expect us to vote on something like that, but as far as the speaker has said as of this afternoon, we will not be voting on anything related to taxes which includes the food tax which the governor is insisting that we vote on,” she said. “We will not be doing that. There will be no signing of any tax package.”
From the Senate side, Steinborn said he doesn’t know what will happen.
“She wants us to decide on this (tax) bill but we didn’t get a draft until today on a 400-page bill,” he said. “She wants to re-impose the food tax. That would be devastating. In the Senate that is dead on arrival.
Steinborn said both legislators and governor are constitutionally bound to balance the budget, and that the only way to get anything out of the session is to pass a bill in both branches that are compatible. “If they are different for each body, we have to go to conference committee.”
Steinborn added he is hopeful legislators will get something accomplished.
“Maybe there are some house members in the governor’s party that aren’t going to do the Thelma and Louise bit,” he said. “Hopefully if we can see some bipartisanship in the House and in the Senate, we can pass some responsible legislation that doesn’t hurt New Mexico, that doesn’t cut education.”
But, he cautioned, the governor has “drawn lines in the sand” and legislators aren’t likely to cross them.
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