Saying she’s tired of political games, Gov. Susana Martinez announced Wednesday evening that she will call lawmakers to Santa Fe on Friday to address the state’s budget shortfall and consider three crime-related bills.
“The governor has worked for over 60 days to negotiate a budget deal with Senate Democrats. However, it appears that Senate Democrats would rather play political games that could shut down the government rather than solve our budget challenges,” Martinez spokesman Michael Lonergan said.
“The governor believes we need to act now, and will therefore call a special session for Friday,” Lonergan said. “We hope it will be short, but that all depends on whether the Senate will take our pressing challenges seriously, including our crime issues, or if they will continue to play games.”
Legislative leaders and the governor’s administration have been negotiating behind closed doors on how to address the massive budget shortfall that spans two fiscal years, but no deal is in place. The governor has insisted she won’t consider tax increases, which would necessitate extensive cuts. Many Democrats, meanwhile, have called for a plan that mixes cuts with tax hikes.
The newest revenue projections leave the state short almost $600 million to pay outstanding bills from the last fiscal year and fund its budget for the current year that began July 1. Lawmakers and Martinez’s administration are discussing taking money from the $219 million Tobacco Permanent Fund to address the shortfall. But that’s not nearly enough.
The governor will also ask lawmakers to consider reinstating the death penalty, approving a bill to require life sentences for people convicted of three violent felonies, and legislation that would allow a life sentence for those convicted of intentional child abuse resulting in the death of a child of any age.
Current law in New Mexico allows a life sentence for intentional abuse resulting in the death of a child under 12; the maximum penalty for intentional abuse resulting in the death of a child ages 12-17 is 18 years.
In New Mexico, a life sentence is defined as 30 years in prison.