Stateline: 5:57:47 PM, Wednesday, February 22, 2017, the New Mexico Roundhouse:
As the House started floor debate on the FY 2018 state budget, Speaker Brian Egolf recognized “the Gentlelady from McKinley and San Juan” counties.
That would be the powerful House Chair of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee (HAFC), Patricia Lundstrom. Here’s is what she had to say before deliberations on the budget*:
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
“I just wanted to let the body know that for tonight we have a feast coming our way. And that’s going to be Lota Burgers and Fries.
“And, ah … ha, ha and everybody’s happy about that Mr. Speaker.
“And I just wanted to let everybody know who the sponsors are for tonight, that’d be Vanessa Alarid, Mark Duran, Mark Fleischer, Charlie Marcus, John Thompson, Jason Thompson and Jason Weeks.
“So, if we see them today, let’s thank them because we’re getting some real food tonight!”
If that’s what they consider to be ‘real food,’ it is understandable Democrats would believe what they passed last night was a ‘real budget.’
Their budget is as flat as a pancake, and even less nutritious when it comes to growing jobs.
The only beef served up last night came with a side of fries and a medium soft drink, all quickly woofed down by the sixty nine House members present – no leftovers for underfed programs.
A close read of the 191 page bill made it clear that teachers and state employees will be placed on a steady diet of “do more with less” for yet another year.
Just what the Governor ordered.
And while Republicans joined Democrats in enjoying the free meal from lobbyists, that was as far as the bipartisanship seemed to go.
They let the Democrats do their bidding, then sat back and complained the budget hurt kids. Now that is a slick bit of role reversal.
The GOP even had their own version of the budget, which also neglected the needs of working families, but for some reason they chose not to offer it during debate.
Maybe tryptophan kicked in. Or maybe they thought the Democrats had already done a good job advancing the ‘right-sizing’ agenda espoused by conservatives.
In the end the Republicans just said no.
The liberals should have said no, too. Albeit for different reasons.
But then maybe there are no more liberals left in the House to fight for working people.
With so many things wrong about the budget debate last night, legislators salivating over a free meal from a gang of highly paid lobbyists is a fitting image of political leaders losing touch with the public.
(There must be a common cause for concern somewhere here, no? Maybe it can be studied in the interim.)
226 Minute Budget Session
While chowing down on free food (hey, pass the ketchup will ’ya?), members spent just 226 minutes – including announcements and miscellaneous business – to weigh in on financial decisions affecting the lives of virtually all residents of the state.
It will take 229 minutes to burn off the 850 calories the lobbyists are responsible for, in fattening up your State Rep. That’s 3 minutes and of 42 seconds of effort for each calorie.
Three minutes more than the time Democrats and Republicans spent debating a $6 billion budget. That’s 1 minute of debate (split theoretically among 70 House members) for every $26,548,672.00, they appropriated.
This reporter needs a shot or two of whiskey, and at least a day to recover from realizing about how much they care.
Therefore details of the shortcomings of the House Democrats’ budget will be reported in another story tomorrow.
*The quotes reported on above are transcribed from the archived video of the House debate on the budget, Wednesday evening, February 22, 2017. You can watch the debate for yourself on-line by clicking on the following link: