SANTA FE, N.M. – Gov. Susana Martinez refused to sign the 2017 budget presented to her by New Mexico lawmakers at the end of the legislative session last week.
Instead, she vowed to call everyone back in for a special session to amend it.
Family advocates are worried that in the feud, the modest social service gains made in the budget will be lost.
James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, says he’s disheartened that the governor won’t accept legislators’ bipartisan efforts to benefit New Mexico families.
“Families and children are not going to prosper if we continue to cut the support that we have for them, in healthcare and education in particular,” he states.
Jimenez adds that New Mexico still hasn’t climbed out of the 2008 recession, and families are the ones who are suffering as the state wrestles with the highest unemployment rate in the country.
Martinez has been strict on not raising taxes, but also has trimmed spending on government services anywhere she can. If she does not veto the budget by April 7, it automatically goes into effect.
The Democrat-controlled Legislature produced a tax-and-spend budget that lawmakers insist has the compromises the governor’s office requested. But Jimenez is concerned that, in addition to education and health care, other important state services are going without.
“We have not seen the kind of support for the programs that, when children get in trouble or children are victims of abuse and neglect, there’s not been nearly enough resources devoted to programs that support families that are in those situations,” he states.
Jimenez adds a special legislative session could cost New Mexico residents $40,000 to $50,000 a day.
Brett McPherson, Public News Service – NM