Governor blames Senate ‘failure’ for vetoes, signs two House GOP bills

A day after vetoing six pieces of legislation in an apparent burst of anger at Democratic lawmakers, Gov. Susana Martinez on Thursday signed two GOP-sponsored House bills.

Susana Martinez

Heath Haussamen / NMPolitics.net

Gov. Susana Martinez

Her office also released a statement making clear she’s directing her wrath primarily at the Senate, even though she vetoed one bill sponsored by a House Democrat among the six she nixed on Wednesday.

“Sadly, the Senate continues to sit on its hands and pass meaningless bills like the ‘official state winter holiday song’ about posole and tamales,” Martinez spokesman Michael Lonergan said. “That’s disappointing, and that failure of the Senate to live up to its constitutional duties, including passing a balanced budget, has led to many vetoes of unnecessary bills.”

“They need to pass a balanced budget that doesn’t raise taxes and protects classroom spending and send it up to the governor’s desk,” Lonergan said.

On Thursday, Martinez signed two bills. House Bill 29, sponsored by Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, creates an advisory board to help address a massive sinkhole below the city of Carlsbad that is in danger of collapsing. And House Bill 197, sponsored by Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, relates to accounting regulations for out-of-state residents.

A day earlier, Martinez vetoed six bills sponsored by Democrats — all but one of them senators — without giving any explanation.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, continued sending bills to the governor on Thursday, including one sponsored by Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, that aims to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.

The dynamic this session between the governor and lawmakers — except House Republicans — has been contentious. It began with a fight over funding for the legislative session itself and emergency funding for courts. It has continued from there.

The chair of the Senate Rules Committee, Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, hasn’t held confirmation hearings for most of the governor’s appointees. Martinez’s priority bills, like mandatory retention for third-grade students who can’t read at grade level, have lingered without being given hearings in time to move through the legislative process. When the governor took time to write a lengthy explanation for her veto of legislation that would forbid penalizing teachers on evaluations for using their sick leave, the Senate overrode the veto. It’s the first time either chamber has overrode a Martinez veto.

And some lawmakers, including Cervantes, have accused Martinez of pay-to-play — a charge the governor has denied — because of legislation that would have benefited campaign contributors.

Martinez has thus far signed 10 House bills — one with partial vetoes — while fully vetoing three House bills, according to her website. Meanwhile, she’s signed two Senate bills and vetoed 10, according to her website.

The debate over balancing the state’s budget and increasing reserves to avoid a credit downgrade has been the primary focus of the session. Martinez has signaled a willingness to sign into law eliminations of some tax exemptions but not straight tax increases — though there’s a fine line between those two types of changes to bring more money into state government.

Negotiations have continued for days between lawmakers and the governor over a final budget without much public discussion. On March 11, the Senate, on bipartisan votes, passed the budget bill, House Bill 2, and HB 202, which could raise more than $300 million in new revenue depending on which tax hikes Martinez signed and which she vetoed.

Though the bills had received prior House approval, the Senate amended both, so another House vote on each is necessary. And since March 11, there’s been no public movement in that direction.

The session ends at noon on Saturday.

This BBSNews article was syndicated from NMPolitics.net, and written by Heath Haussamen, NMPolitics.net. Read the original article here.