Sometimes great ideas are scratched out on the back of an envelope, or maybe a keen observation is jotted down on a napkin in the coffee shop … like the message contained in the image accompanying this editorial: Same old thinking, same old results.
And even though New Mexico needs a new approach, it’s not clear all the new leadership at the Roundhouse is ready to advance one.
In a few days both the Governor and the Legislative Finance Committee of New Mexico will be releasing their respective approaches to the state budget for fiscal year 2018 – and absent strong leadership from the House and Senate it’s likely we are going to be in for the same old failed results.
Comments from the executive and some legislators range from embracing worn out and failed policy to a few versions of re-arranging the deck chairs on a failing ship of state.
Governor Martinez continues to box herself in a corner by her same old threats to veto any revenue increasing measures.
But the Legislature hasn’t been an overwhelming source of hope either, with its ambivalence to the cries of Senate Finance Chair John Arthur Smith that “we need now money.”
One so-called revenue reform package advanced by the out-going conservative Republican chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and a liberal firebrand Democratic Representative claims to fix a failed revenue system that hasn’t had a good chiropractic adjustment since the 1960’s.
Here’s the problem though: The price of the compromise is a proposal that remains ‘revenue neutral.’
How is that addressing the needs of a state finding itself in last place in every important category measuring quality of life – worst education opportunity, worst economic growth … the Cleveland Browns of the United State’s state governments?
Several progressive legislators are advancing some alternative approaches that should make a difference; and even a conservative Democrat like Senator Smith is proposing some real action.
A lot has been made of the Democrats having won back the House; but how will their new leaders exercise the trust handed them to turn things around?
The gossip permeating the Roundhouse is they are concerned that the Governor will use her veto to prevent new ideas from becoming a reality.
They seem poised to talking the talk but postponing the walk until the Governor vacates the fourth floor for little Texas in two years.
The Senate shows more signs of acting like they matter.
Senator Smith and the new Senate Majority Floor Leader Peter Wirth seem up to the task of making sure the Senate is a co-equal branch of the peoples’ government.
The coalition of labor, progressives and environmentalists who worked to turn state government around by electing a legislature which will no longer cower, need to remind some of the folks they put in power that the people cannot afford to wait two years while they hunker down and try to out-wait the Governor.
The people expect elected officials to do something, not just play it safe for their re-election.
Better to calmly and firmly vote through new ideas and approaches to the state’s problems and force the Governor to act on them, than to surrender by saying it makes no difference because she may use her veto power.
It only makes sense to hold the Governor and her legislative supporters responsible for their actions. But to do that both branches of the legislature need to put some of their new and good ideas on her desk.