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Gov. releases new details on water projects

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SANTA FE – Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration, under criticism from state legislators about its approach to a major water projects initiative, released new information Thursday about its priorities for spending $112 million on water projects around the state, or about 60 percent of proposed capital outlay.

Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn declined to release a list of the administration’s water priorities, telling members of the Senate Finance Committee that the administration wants to work with legislators on the water spending plan.

“A list needs to come from collaboration between the executive and the Legislature,” Flynn said.

Gov. Susana Martinez has been criticized for approach to water initiative.

Gov. Susana Martinez has been criticized for approach to water initiative.

Flynn’s comment came in response to a question from Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa about when legislators would see a list of projects the administration wants to fund.

Martinez announced the $112 million initiative at a November news conference. But in the months since, legislators have complained that the administration was releasing few details about the projects it wanted to include.

In a series of public events around the state in recent weeks, the governor and her staff have announced their preferences for $22.3 million worth of projects, but they had been largely silent on the rest.

This week, Sen. Bill Soules, D-Las Cruces, in his Democratic response to the governor’s State of the State address, criticized the Martinez administration for not putting forward a list of statewide water projects.

N.M. Sen. Bill Soules slams governor for not producing list.

N.M. Sen. Bill Soules slams governor for not producing list.

“Gov. Martinez has not included the Legislature in how that 60 percent of capital outlay money is going to be spent,” Soules said. “We’re told ‘trust me.’ She doesn’t include us in (deciding) how best to spend that in our communities where we know best what the needs are.

“She would find much more cooperation if she included us, instead of trying to work around us,” he added.

In a statement released to reporters Thursday, Flynn outlined what he said were a number of priorities for the money, including repairs at five New Mexico dams, water supply improvements in troubled communities like Maxwell and Magdalena, and money to help fund a groundwater storage effort in Albuquerque. In all, Flynn said, more than 70 communities have contacted the state looking for water money. But Flynn cautioned that there is not enough money to fund all the priorities.

Journal staff writer Dan Boyd contributed to this report.

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