The state Legislature adjourned a 60-day session on Saturday after earlier approving bills that attempt to address the state’s budget woes and sending voters a long-sought proposal to create a state ethics commission.
Gov. Susana Martinez immediately criticized the work of the Legislature, saying many lawmakers “failed to do their job.” She has yet to act on legislation to fund state government for the next fiscal year, which includes a number of tax increases. But she promised to call a special session on the budget “soon.”
“I will never allow lawmakers to raise taxes on our families in order to bail out government spending,” Martinez said at a post-session news conference.
Martinez’s staff has said the governor is also considering a shutdown of nonessential government services to conserve cash until there is a budget.
“The budget that’s passed and is on the way to the governor’s desk is not balanced,” Martinez Chief of Staff Keith Gardner said Friday.
At a post-session news conference, House Minority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, sounded ready for a special session.
“I think that many of those tax increases are going to be vetoed, as they should be, and we’ll be back here soon,” Gentry said.
Other lawmakers said after the session adjourned that they hope the governor signs the budget bills, even with targeted line-item vetoes of certain tax increases, so government’s ability to function isn’t in doubt.
“That talk about a special session before the ink is even dry on the last role-call vote doesn’t serve the people, doesn’t serve the business community in the state of New Mexico. It creates uncertainty,” House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said at a post-session news conference.
Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, who like Martinez is a Republican, said he hopes there’s no special session.
“Let’s hope that we’re not back here,” he said moments after the Senate adjourned, “but if we are, we’ll come back with the zeal and the passion” to do the right thing for the state.
Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, sent a news release moments after the session ended declaring the budget balanced. On the Senate floor, however, he didn’t sound optimistic that the governor will agree.
In a speech in which he praised senators from both parties for working together, Ingle said, “We’ll work together, I’d say, at some time in the next 30 days.”
“We’ve worked well together and we will continue to do that because we don’t have time to do anything else,” Ingle said. “Our duties this year will continue.” He said the Senate will need to focus on being “forward-thinking” and making the state “a welcoming place for business and industry.”
Lawmakers also praised each other for working across party lines during the session. Gentry thanked Egolf, who just completed his first session as speaker, for his efforts, and thanked House members for working together. Egolf made similar comments.
“I know that there’s at least one place in the world of politics where things seem to work right more than they seem not to — and that’s the New Mexico House of Representatives,” Egolf said shortly before the House adjourned.
The Senate chamber was filled with similar praise as the session ended.
“I think what’s unique about this chamber is that we put the people first — and it’s not party, it’s the people,” Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, told his colleagues shortly after adjournment.
Sanchez praised Wirth, who just completed his first session as majority leader, saying he “did an exceptional job.” And Sanchez thanked all senators for working together.
“We may have differences of opinions in how things work, but when we leave this chamber we always know that we’re all New Mexicans first,” the lieutenant governor said.
Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, agreed. “I don’t know whether we’ll be back in a special session or not, but thank you for working together in a cooperative manner,” she told senators and Sanchez just after adjournment.
Egolf told reporters there should be no need for a special session.
“Our commitments were met,” he said. “We did what we needed to do, but also more importantly, we did what we said we would do.”