Senate Democratic leaders, seeking to avoid a destructive showdown on capital outlay funds worth hundreds of millions of dollars for public projects across the state in 2015, are now in talks with officials from Governor Susana Martinez’s office and Senate Republicans. As of Tuesday afternoon, negotiations among the parties were ongoing and expected to continue. No compromise had been reached to enable capital funds to be spent next year, nor on whether a special session to resolve the issue would occur.
“All the participants of these discussions on capital outlay today recognize that for a special session to be successful, the Legislature and Executive must overcome the conflicts that led to the failure of the capital outlay package in the first place. We still have differences and, while it would be advantageous for the Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign a capital outlay bill, those differences might be insurmountable. But we will try,” said Senator John Arthur Smith, (D-35- Dona Ana, Hidalgo, Luna & Sierra), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
Since the end of the 2015 Legislature more than a month ago, working people, business groups and the representatives of organized working men and women have urged legislators and the Governor to find a way to get capital outlay project funds out into communities across New Mexico.
“Our caucus is willing to support a special session if an agreement can be reached,” said Senate Majority Floor Leader, Senator Michael S. Sanchez (D-29-Bernalillo & Valencia). “We hope the current negotiations will be successful because there are thousands of jobs at stake across New Mexico, and that is our top priority. If an agreement is reached, I anticipate we could finish our work in about a day.”
During the legislative session, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate passed a bipartisan capital outlay bill by a vote of 40-0.
In addition to the $264 million of 2015 capital outlay, the parties are also discussing the billion dollars in capital outlay projects that have been stalled, some as many as six years. Senate Democrats would like to move those projects through the pipeline now to bring more jobs and stimulate the State’s economy.