Governor firm on taxes, Special Session. The Candle Awaits House/Senate Leaders’ Response.

Governor Susana Martinez speaks to reporters, March 18, 2017.

This morning The Candle contacted the Governor’s communication office regarding the status of her review and potential action on the budget and revenue bills.

We were interested particularly after reading a story by Dan McKay of the Albuquerque Journal stating:

“The governor has said she will call lawmakers into special session soon to address the budget. The fiscal year begins July 1.”

The administration responded that Governor Martinez is still reviewing the budget, and while not revealing whether she would use her line item authority or veto the budget in its entirety, they stated emphatically that she will not raise taxes, and that she still wants to call a special session soon.

This seems to set the stage for another round of negotiations, if not over budget items (although that definitely could be in the mix), certainly over so-called tax reform.

The Governor has expressed interest in the already House passed reform package embodied in HB 412, primarily designed by Representative Jason C. Harper (R – Rio Rancho).

Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth (right), discusses budget at March 18, 2017, press conference as Senate colleagues look on.

This poses a serious problem for House Democrats, though, as the Senate identified several areas of concern both from an ideological perspective, as well as a fiscal one.

And both the House and Senate Democrats failed to take any serious action on other revenue options such as increases in tobacco and alcohol taxes and dealing with upper income earner rates.

Given there will likely be a special session called soon The Candle sent the following questions to both the Speaker of the House, Representative Brian Egolf (D – Santa Fe), and Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth (D – Santa Fe):

  1. Will House/Senate Democrats offer any other revenue options in the expected special session the Governor indicated she will call?
  2. If not, why?
  3. Has the legislature politically boxed itself in with the revenue package it offered in HB 202, in a manner similar to when a last best offer is made in collective bargaining – in this case vis-à-vis the package offered in HB 202, being considered a last best offer from legislators before they adjourned?
  4. Do you plan on adjourning the House/Senate Sine Die, if the Governor has signed a budget with line item vetoes?
  5. House Speaker Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe).

    If she vetoes the budget in its entirety, have legislative leaders anticipated an alternative budget proposal from the original passed at the end of the session?

  6. Have you or other leadership members met with the administration in an effort to structure what would be deliberated in a special session?
  7. Is the legislative leadership still certain that FY 2017, will end in balance?

Hopefully we will get some answers later today or in the morning, at which time The Candle will report back.