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Gov. vetoes funding for panel responsible for confirmations

SANTA FE – A longtime feud over confirmation hearings deepened Thursday, when Gov. Susana Martinez used her line-item veto authority to ax non-session funding for a key Senate committee.

Gov. Susana Martinez

The two-term Republican governor’s veto of $19,100 from a “feed” bill that pays for session expenses comes as more than 80 nominees are awaiting confirmation hearings in the Senate Rules Committee.

The panel met only once in the run-up to this year’s session, recommending the confirmation of five low-profile nominees during a hearing last month.

“New Mexicans expect us as leaders to work together and do our jobs,” Martinez said in a Thursday statement. “The Senate Rules Committee refuses to do so, and I’m not going to permit them to waste almost $20,000 of taxpayer money while they continue to drag their feet on their constitutional responsibility.”

Sen. Linda Lopez

Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, the panel’s chairwoman, has pushed back against Martinez’s criticism and pointed out that she also butted heads with officials in former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration.

Earlier this week, Lopez called for Public Education Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski to step down over comments he made about “Manifest Destiny” at a charter school convention last month.

She also sent a letter to Martinez on Thursday claiming the governor had not filed the proper paperwork for Ruszkowski’s appointment to be considered by the Senate during this year’s 30-day legislative session.