NM House Republicans Ignore Budget Crisis on Day 1 of Special Session

NM Senate Democrats

PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Isaac Padilla 505/264-6512

September 30, 2016

House Republicans Ignore Budget Crisis on Day 1 of Special Session

Putting New Mexico Families & Children in Jeopardy

(Santa Fe, NM) – Despite New Mexico facing a $600 million budget crisis so severe that it required Governor Susana Martinez to call an emergency meeting of the Legislature, the House Republican majority today failed to introduce even one bill addressing this fiscal year’s shortfall.  The state will soon run out of money if lawmakers do not fix the problem, and the ostensible purpose of the $54,000 per day special session is to deal with that fact.   Nonetheless, the Governor and her House Republican allies have decided to focus on purely political moves to reinstate the death penalty and other divisive matters that distract from the work at hand.

“It is irresponsible that Gov. Martinez and House Republican legislators are now pushing highly controversial crime policies instead of dealing with our massive budget deficit.  The people of our state need us to fix the state’s serious money problems before addressing any other issues, especially with the regular legislative session only three short months away.  Now is not the time to add further debt and stress to an already struggling judicial system,” said Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla.

The whole point of the Governor calling a special session appears to be for the purpose of empowering Republican PACs to broadcast TV and radio ads, and direct mail attacking Democrats running for Legislature in November.

The Governor is pushing reinstatement of the death penalty in the brief special legislative session, even though she has barely mentioned the policy in six years in office.  As the District Attorney prosecutor in Dona Ana County for many years, Martinez never once sought the death penalty in a murder case, even though several were eligible.

“If the goal is lessening crime in New Mexico, then we should be talking about more staff and resources for mental health services, law enforcement, childcare, our judicial system, and child protective services that prevent future tragedies.   One of the most important things we can do to protect kids is solve this budget crisis now, to make sure that we fund police, CYFD child protection and our courts. That is why we hurried to Santa Fe with only 24-hour notice given by the Governor.  It is cynical, it makes no sense, and is an improper use of taxpayer dollars to consider any issues besides the budget crisis our state is facing,” added Senator John Arthur Smith.

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House Republicans Ignore Budget Crisis on Day 1 of Special Session Putting New Mexico Families & Children in Jeopardy

Contact: Isaac Padilla
Office: 505/986.4263
Mobile: 505/264.6512
Isaac.Padilla@nmlegis.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

House Republicans Ignore Budget Crisis on Day 1 of Special Session

Putting New Mexico Families & Children in Jeopardy 

(Santa Fe, NM) – Despite New Mexico facing a $600 million budget crisis so severe that it required Governor Susana Martinez to call an emergency meeting of the Legislature, the House Republican majority today failed to introduce even one bill addressing this fiscal year’s shortfall.  The state will soon run out of money if lawmakers do not fix the problem, and the ostensible purpose of the $54,000 per day special session is to deal with that fact.   Nonetheless, the Governor and her House Republican allies have decided to focus on purely political moves to reinstate the death penalty and other divisive matters that distract from the work at hand.

“It is irresponsible that Gov. Martinez and House Republican legislators are now pushing highly controversial crime policies instead of dealing with our massive budget deficit.  The people of our state need us to fix the state’s serious money problems before addressing any other issues, especially with the regular legislative session only three short months away.  Now is not the time to add further debt and stress to an already struggling judicial system,” said Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla.

The whole point of the Governor calling a special session appears to be for the purpose of empowering Republican PACs to broadcast TV and radio ads, and direct mail attacking Democrats running for Legislature in November.

The Governor is pushing reinstatement of the death penalty in the brief special legislative session, even though she has barely mentioned the policy in six years in office.  As the District Attorney prosecutor in Dona Ana County for many years, Martinez never once sought the death penalty in a murder case, even though several were eligible.

“If the goal is lessening crime in New Mexico, then we should be talking about more staff and resources for mental health services, law enforcement, childcare, our judicial system, and child protective services that prevent future tragedies.   One of the most important things we can do to protect kids is solve this budget crisis now, to make sure that we fund police, CYFD child protection and our courts. That is why we hurried to Santa Fe with only 24-hour notice given by the Governor.  It is cynical, it makes no sense, and is an improper use of taxpayer dollars to consider any issues besides the budget crisis our state is facing,” added Senator John Arthur Smith.

 

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Statement by Senate Democrats in Response to Gov. Martinez Announcement That She Will Add Reinstatement of the Death Penalty to the Upcoming Special Session:

Contact: Isaac Padilla
Office: 505/986.4819
Mobile: 505/264.6512
Isaac.Padilla@nmlegis.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Senate Democrats issue the following statement in response to Governor Martinez’s announcement that she will add reeinstatement of the death penalty to the upcoming special session:

Santa Fe-“Adding the reeinstatment of the death penalty is an irresponsible distraction to the dire economic situation the state is facing. As elected officials, it is our duty to focus on the budget as our first priority. Senate Democrats are committed to working in a bi-partisan manner to resolve this crisis and avoid cutting critical services to the public. We want to prevent the furloughing of law enforcement officers, classroom teachers, nurses, correctional officers, and other vital state employees. The regular session is three months away and that is the appropriate time to debate other issues.”

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Broadband Expansion at Belen Consolidated School District

Contact: Isaac Padilla
Office: 505/986.4819
Mobile: 505/264.6512
Isaac.Padilla@nmlegis.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Broadband Expansion at Belen Consolidated School District

Santa Fe- Today, September 20th at 1:30 PM at Infinity High School, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez (D-29- Bernalillo and Valencia), Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla (D-14-Bernalillo), CEO of Plateau Telecommunications Tom Phelps, and the Executive Director of the New Mexico Exchange Carrier Group Charles Ferrell announced that broadband speed at all schools within the Belen Consolidated School District have been increased to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) via the Plateau fiber optic network.

“A quality education opens doors for children, and in today’s America, access to broadband opens those doors even wider,” said Sen. Sanchez. “We know that the digital divide impedes access to the internet for children in rural areas, and this broadband expansion will help close that divide for children attending Belen’s public schools.”

“Improving and expanding educational opportunity for all New Mexico’s students is vital for economic growth,” said Sen. Padilla. “Increased access to broadband in Belen will improve education and give the children of Belen the tools needed for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Tom Phelps currently serves as CEO of Plateau Telecommunications, Incorporated, headquartered in Clovis. Plateau Telecommunications has fiber in Belen, making it possible to provide broadband at 1 Gbps to the schools in that district. Tom Phelps stated, “Plateau Telecommunications is excited and pleased to be part of expanding educational possibilities in Belen, and we would like to thank Senator Sanchez and Senator Padilla for recognizing the importance of high speed broadband service to New Mexico.”

Charles Ferrell is the current Executive Director of the New Mexico Exchange Carrier Group (NMECG). The NMECG is an industry association that represents 13 rural New Mexico Telephone Companies. “Large communication companies often overlook rural New Mexico, and our small companies have been instrumental in delivering quality services to these areas. We are working hard to close the digital divide and are proud of our efforts in conjunction with Senator Sanchez and Senator Padilla to further this endeavor,” said Charles Ferrell.

The average broadband speed in the United States is 18.2 megabits per second (Mbps). At 20 Mbps, it takes 45 minutes to download a 2 hour HD movie. At 1 Gbps via the Plateau fiber optic network, that same movie will download in 7 seconds.

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Sen. Padilla Requests Independent Investigation into the Death of Victoria Martens

 

Contact: Isaac Padilla
Office: 505/986.4819
Mobile: 505/264.6512
Isaac.Padilla@nmlegis.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sen. Padilla Requests Independent Investigation into the Death of Victoria Martens

Santa Fe- Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla (D-14-Bernalillo) requested Attorney General Hector Balderas conduct an independent investigation into the death of Victoria Martens. A letter, making the request, was sent to the Attorney General and is attached to this communication.

“The alleged details surrounding the death of Victoria Martens may be the worst crime in New Mexico history, and it demands action,” said Sen. Padilla. “I am asking Attorney General Hector Balderas to appoint a non-partisan independent blue ribbon commission, or similar committee, of former members of the New Mexico judiciary to investigate this matter as soon as possible.”

After the death of Omaree Varela, the state was assured that the Children Youth and Family Department (CYFD) would make changes to protect New Mexico’s children. On April 2, 2014, Governor Martinez stated, “For any family in New Mexico that has faced two CYFD investigations, whether abuse or neglect was substantiated or not, I am directing CYFD to perform a supervisory high-level review involving that family.”

“At the conclusion of this independent investigation I am asking that the Attorney General provide the results, along with a set of recommendations, to my office and all other members of leadership of the New Mexico Legislature,” said Senator Padilla.

Media outlets have reported that at least two reports were made to CYFD about Victoria Martens. This investigation will determine if all processes were followed, including a supervisory high-level review of the family.

After Martinez removed the previous CYFD Secretary following serious problems at the agency, she was replaced with a new secretary, Monique Jacobson, who had no experience in child protective services. Following Secretary Jacobson’s appointment, Legislative Finance Committee staff recommended, during the 2015 Session, that CYFD create 66 new positions to investigate child abuse. Secretary Jacobson did not agree that 66 new positions were needed and sided with the Department of Finance and Administration’s request for only 45 new positions, a 32% reduction verses the recommendation. Eventually, 45 new positions were created.

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Tougher Penalties Don’t Address the Causes of Crimes

Tougher Penalties Don’t Address the Causes of Crimes

by Rory Rank, Attorney at Law, Las Cruces, NM

Published in the Albuquerque Journal, September 19, 2016

 The Journal’s editorial calling for tougher criminal penalties has crystallized its primary objective: the defeat of Democrats in the New Mexico Legislature.  It is premised on an emotional, misdirected response to recent, horrific tragedies.  It is also designed to deflect attention from the causes of these tragedies and inaccurately portray the motivation and character of Senate Democrats at the polls, just one month before voting begins.  They have been a target of the Journal editorial writers before, but this time the Journal’s political and personal assassination attempt has exceeded the bounds of journalistic integrity and fair comment.

New Mexico certainly has its problems with crime that call out for effective solutions.  But had the Journal chosen to think through these problems logically, and to publish a rational editorial on the subject, it would have taken data and evidence into account.  A National Research Council report from 2014, for instance, drawing on significant research, concluded that lengthy prison sentences are ineffective in reducing crime:

  • In Virginia, an analysis of the imposition of severe punishments for gun crimes found “the threat of enhanced sentences had no apparent deterrent effect.”
  • Teens didn’t commit significantly fewer crimes after they turned 18, even though the severity of punishments increased.
  • A California law requiring sentences of 25 years for three-strike offenders had minimal deterrent effect, not enough to justify the increased costs of incarceration.

The Journal claims that two horrific crimes would not have occurred if Senate Democrats had approved criminal legislation it supports.   This is an absurd assertion, without merit.  How would requiring Jessica Kelley to provide her phone and address to local police have deterred her from participating in a horrific crime against a ten-year old?  And the 2016 three-strikes bill the Journal supported would not have applied in the case of alleged cop-killer Andrew Romero that occurred in 2015.

Senate Democrats are not weak on crime.  They are concerned with the public’s safety.  If it were interested in being objective, the Journal would have conceded that Senate Democrats have in fact supported and passed numerous legislation to crack down on criminals.  During the 2016 meeting of the legislature alone, Senate Democrats – and Michael Sanchez – voted to increase penalties for the possession, distribution and manufacture of child pornography. They toughened penalties for sexual exploitation of children by prostitution, by removing the present statute’s age restrictions.  And they passed legislation that allows the records of youthful offenders to be used when judges consider bail for adults.  But these facts don’t fit the Journal’s narrative.

Were the editorial writers serious about deterring crime, rather than politicizing the issue, perhaps they would have opined strongly in favor of policies to  reduce criminal behavior, like bold early education investments in children – greater efforts to get kids going in the right direction when they are young, before they turn to a life of crime; providing more well trained law cops on the streets of  cities to stop crime, and making substantially increased investments in substance abuse treatment and behavioral health.

On the law enforcement side, the Journal writers could have come out for far better funding for the whole range of criminal justice system inputs – the courts, prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers, social workers, and post-release programs.  For the Journal, deterring crime, simplistically, came down to two flawed bills that would not have deterred the tragedies the editorial writers blamed on Democratic legislators.

The truth is, our state already has ample laws to lock up bad guys, and keep them locked up.  It’s a matter of all parts of the criminal justice system functioning in unison.  If simply imposing stiffer penalties were the solution, we would have little crime in New Mexico.   Truth is, stiffer penalties do not necessarily make us safer.  It is easy to grandstand on crime when you’re not the person making the tough decisions and can remain anonymous when opining.  The Journal should not be advocating for policies and politicians that hobble effective government.

http://www.pressreader.com/usa/albuquerque-journal/20160919/281715499085265

Senator Michael Sanchez Praises Supreme Court Ruling

Contact: Isaac Padilla
Office: 505/986.4819
Mobile: 505/264.6512
Isaac.Padilla@nmlegis.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Senator Michael Sanchez Praises Supreme Court Ruling

Santa Fe- Today Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez (D-29- Bernalillo and Valencia) praised the recent unanimous State Supreme Court ruling that substantially expanded voting rights and will increase participation in elections. The New Mexico Compilation Commission had maintained that certain ballot initiatives needed 75% of the vote to be enacted. The State Supreme Court ruled that a simple majority was needed for the measures to be implemented.

The three ballot measures that will expand voting rights include Senator Michael Sanchez’s measure to allow school board elections to be held at the same time as non-partisan elections, Senator Howie Morales’s (D-28-Catron, Grant and Socorro) measure to extend the right to vote to felons after they complete their sentence and Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto’s (D-15-Bernalillo) measure to replace laws banning “idiots” and “insane persons”.

“School board elections are expensive and have a history of low participation, but soon it will be possible to hold them at the same time as nonpartisan elections,” said Senator Sanchez. “This will increase participation, save money and is great for democracy in New Mexico.”

The rule to hold school board elections separate from other elections dates back to 1910 when women in New Mexico were only allowed to vote in school board elections. The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution gave all women the right to vote in 1920.

“Expanding voter participation in New Mexico is something I have fought for since I entered the Senate,” said Sen. Sanchez. “I will continue to fight for the rights of New Mexicans as long as I have the privilege to serve.”

The State Legislature still needs to pass a law that allows school board elections to be held at the same time as non-partisan elections such as city council, community college and water district elections.

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Letter to the Editor by Senator Padilla: State Budget Crisis Requires Responsible Cuts and Reliable Revenue Sources

Contact: Isaac Padilla
Office: 505/986.4819
Mobile: 505/264.6512
Isaac.Padilla@nmlegis.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: State Budget Crisis Requires Responsible Cuts and Reliable Revenue Sources

September 12, 2016

Letter Submitted by Senator Michael Padilla, Majority Whip

New Mexico is facing a budget crisis of historic proportions, one that must be dealt with now, not later.  The state budget crisis requires responsible cuts and reliable revenue sources.

For reasons that are difficult to fathom, the Governor and her Republican allies in the House of Representatives have been downplaying the seriousness of the budget crisis.  Both the Governor and the Legislature have an obligation to fix the problem, not to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Now is the time for democrats and republicans to come together to solve this problem.

It takes a special session to fix the budget, and most legislators of both parties are waiting anxiously for the Governor to convene one.  That constitutional power lies with her alone. The severity of the state’s shortfall has been known for several months yet no date has been announced.

The root of the problem is that the Governor’s administration overspent by more than $1 billion during the past two fiscal years.  Clear indications that revenues would fall were ignored.  Partly due to low oil and gas prices globally, it appears state tax revenue will be $431 million less than was budgeted for this year alone. We also learned recently that the state actually spent $220 million more than it took in for the fiscal year that just ended on June 30th.

Efforts over the past few years to create more jobs that pay good wages in New Mexico have been ineffective.  After all, good-paying jobs lead to more state and local revenues.  During both the Martinez and the Richardson administrations, huge tax breaks were handed out to big, out-of-state corporations and the highest income earners.  Those tax cuts didn’t create any jobs, as was promised, and we can no longer afford them.  Now the state is not collecting enough money to cover our important expenses like public education, health care, and public safety.

What our state needs urgently is a responsible plan to address both our short and long term budget challenges.  We can no longer delay.  To fix the immediate problems, the Governor must call a special session of the Legislature now.  Then, we must make responsible spending cuts that do not exacerbate our problems, nor harm essential government services.  Recent news that the District Attorney in Roswell has announced staff cuts because of the state’s inability to help with pay could be our future if this crisis is not solved now.

To deal with our long term priorities in the future, we need fiscally reliable budgets that are based on dependable revenue streams that will remain steady from year to year and not be dependent on global oil and gas fluctuations. If we do not do it, eventually the price will be major cuts to public services and huge layoffs down the road.  Strategies that do not work should also be eliminated.

Senate Democrats want a brief special session to address one issue: the urgent budget crisis that faces our state. It was alarming to see the Governor now floating the idea of adding other items, such as reinstating the death penalty, to a special session agenda.  Surely, that can only be meant to distract attention from the economic crisis created under her watch. To be contemplating any policy items other than fixing the budget shortfall is irresponsible.

While brevity is a virtue during special sessions of the Legislature, the public has a right to transparency as these important decisions that may affect their lives are made.  Senate Democrats want the debate over solutions to these serious budget challenges to be done in public, and with full debate – not behind closed doors.

As the state’s top Executive, it is really up to Gov. Martinez to propose a plan to address the state’s budget crisis.  That’s what governors do.  What’s your plan, Governor?  And when is the special session?

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Senator Padilla Blasts Gov. Martinez’s Attempt to Divert Attention from Failing Economy, Budget and Schools Crisis’ with Push for Death Penalty

Contact: Isaac Padilla
505/264.6512
Isaac.Padilla@nmlegis.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Senator Padilla Blasts Gov. Martinez’s Attempt to Divert Attention from Failing Economy, Budget and Schools Crisis’ with Push for Death Penalty

(Santa Fe, NM) –Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla (D-14-Bernalillo) today sharply criticized Governor Susana Martinez’s recent announcement that she will make it a priority to reinstitute the death penalty in New Mexico during the next legislative session in January.  He called it a cynical attempt to distract attention from the real problems of growing unemployment, K-12 classrooms ranked 50th worst, and a pressing state budget shortfall.  The death penalty was abolished in 2009 after years of public discussion and debate.   Despite having been long resolved, the Governor made the surprise announcement on the issue suddenly last week in the midst of a flurry of bad reports for the state.

“Our greatest desire is for democrats and republicans to come together for our state and solve serious issues with bipartisan solutions,” said Sen. Padilla. “At a time when New Mexico is seeing increasing unemployment rates, now at 6.4 percent, Governor Martinez instead chooses to focus on reinstating the death penalty, when we should have a laser focus on creating jobs, improving our schools, and solving our state budget crisis.”

The Governor certainly had reasons to try to change the subject with her call for reinstatement of the death penalty:

The U.S. Labor Department released official figures on Friday showing that New Mexico’s unemployment rate rose from 6.2 to 6.4 percent last month, still among the worst in the nation. By comparison, the national unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9 percent.  The state remains stalled at 50th in job growth.

On Thursday, results from the national PARCC exam of students showed that despite small increases, the majority of New Mexico students are not proficient in reading and math. Two weeks earlier, WalletHub, a personal finance website, issued the results of a high-profile report showing that New Mexico ranked 49th on math test scores, 50th on reading test scores and 50th in dropout rates.

Earlier this month it was revealed that the State is likely to be short between $300 million to $500 million to pay its operating expenses this year.   It also spent $150 million more than it had budgeted in the fiscal year just passed.

Senate Democrats tried during the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions to jumpstart jobs and tax revenues by bringing forward a “Ready To Work” jobs plan that would have created 73,000 jobs. Instead, Governor Martinez and House Republicans ignored New Mexico’s jobs crisis, opposed the package of bills, and chose in the 2016 meeting of the legislature to focus on a ‘crime all the time’ agenda.

“Senate Democrats have developed a solid job creation plan that focuses our time and energy on workforce development, supporting New Mexico small businesses, improved broadband speeds and access in rural New Mexico, building public private partnerships that result in public ownership, and eliminating what doesn’t create jobs in our tax code.  It is long overdue that the Governor join us in putting this needed plan into action,” Sen. Padilla added.

 

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