Unconscionable: Martinez Vetoes Funding to Prevent Exposure Deaths in Gallup

Governor Again Singled Out Detox Center Funds for Line Item Veto

The Democratic Party of New Mexico on Wednesday called Gov. Susana Martinez’s line-item veto of $200,000 for the Na’Nizhoozhi Center, Inc—Gallup’s only detox facility and shelter—a callous misuse of power that could leave hundreds of McKinley County residents literally out in the cold and at risk this winter.

“Governor Martinez picked up her pen and drew a line through funding that would have guaranteed help for some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Deb Haaland, Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. “That’s unconscionable. By intentionally axing funds to the Na’Nizhoozhi Center, Gov. Martinez may be shutting the center’s doors for good, leaving the Gallup community ripe for even more exposure deaths and with no chance of getting the help they need to combat their addictions in a culturally appropriate environment.”

Specifically, Martinez used her line-item veto power to strike language from state’s recently passed $6.2-billion budget that provided funding for the center, an innovative, short-term detox facility in Gallup that provides a safe place for people in the community who need help. The center was established in response to the alarming number of exposure deaths in Gallup during the winter months when people literally froze on the streets of Gallup.

“This is a serious public health problem. We need more funding to help people shake their addictions – not less. Gov. Martinez owes this community answers, not only to their questions about why she cut the funding, but also their questions of why she has done nothing to boost the area’s economy to lift families out of poverty,” Haaland said.

While Martinez used her line-item power in only a few instances in this year’s budget, this is the second time that she has specifically cut funding for the Na’Nizhoozhi Center. Martinez nixed the center’s funding in last year’s budget as well.

“This is a pattern,” Haaland said. “Gov. Martinez knowingly cuts funding that could save lives. This is just the latest move by this Governor to weaken our behavioral health system and may lead to the closure of yet another important provider that helps New Mexicans.”