|1. BUDGET BATTLE BEGINS: HOUSE COMMITTEE CLEARS BILL THAT MEANS MASSIVE SPENDING INCREASES.
The House will soon consider a $7.6 billion budget package that increases state spending by 7.5% or $530 million. The House Appropriations and Finance Committee approved the plan with progressive Democratic support on an 11-5 party-line vote. Republican legislators described the spending increases as irresponsible and unsustainable should oil revenues fall.
“I don’t want to put us in in a position of giving a green light to certain programs and boosting funding, and just to come back and say, ‘We’re going to cut you now,’’” said Republican Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R)-Carlsbad. “I think that’s the wrong approach.”
The Budget process can also be a “dirty little secret,” as explained in an editorial today by Minority Leader Jim Townsend. Click here to read it.
CALL TO ACTION: Tell your lawmakers no to this wild spending. We could all pay for it in the long run. Contact your lawmakers in the House and insist they vote down this legislation. There must be more restraint at the Capitol.
No word on when the full House will take up the budget plan. It must be on the governor’s desk by February 20.
2. REPUBLICAN BILL TO PROVIDE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES FOR ATHLETES MOVES FORWARD
Legislation that would provide additional funding for mental health programs for student athletes at UNM and New Mexico State University has cleared a Senate Committee. SB56, sponsored by Sen. Mark Moores, (R)-Albuquerque, would allocate $500,000 to each school in the coming fiscal year to expand mental and behavioral health programs. The funding would also pay for more counselors and psychologists, and cover the costs of educational campaigns to let college athletes know help is available. The bill comes after a 21 year-old UNM athlete committed suicide last fall.
The committee unanimously voted for the legislation which heads to the Senate Finance Committee.
3. CONVICTED DWI SENATOR BACKS A LAW TO CHANGE TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS
File this one in the irony department. Democratic Sen. Richard Martinez is the sole sponsor of SB 186, a bill that could benefit drivers who get a traffic violation. You remember Martinez, right? He was convicted of aggravated DWI and reckless driving last year, his arrest and drunken behavior plastered all over TV. While the bill doesn’t address drunken driving, it would ease certain traffic violation penalties and allow courts to dismiss traffic tickets if they don’t get turned it by an officer within five days. Martinez seems to want to go easy on drivers now.
This is how someone who was convicted of drunken driving is going easy on people who violate the law.