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The Martinez era

Gov. Susana Martinez made history in 2010 when she was elected as the state’s first female governor. Here’s a timeline of major events during her eight years in office:

Jan. 1, 2011 – Martinez delivers inaugural address on Santa Fe’s historic plaza in 5-degree weather after winning governor’s race against Democrat Diane Denish. She tells the crowd of onlookers: “Your government will serve no interests but yours.”

Jan. 31, 2011 – The governor issues an executive order authorizing State Police to ask about the immigration status of people arrested on suspicion of committing a crime, rescinding a policy implemented in 2005 by her predecessor, former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson.

April 8, 2011 – Martinez signs into law legislation imposing a $50 million annual cap on state film rebate spending, after describing the rebates as “Hollywood subsidies” on the campaign trail. Two years later, she signs a bill expanding the film incentive program for qualifying television shows.

Aug. 25, 2011 – A state jet that Martinez had targeted as a symbol of governmental excess is sold by the Martinez administration to a retired Alaska publishing executive for roughly $2.5 million. The jet had been purchased by the administration of then-Gov. Bill Richardson for $5.5 million in 2005.

Oct. 7, 2011 – Martinez vetoes the Legislature’s plans for redistricting of the state House and Senate, saying they were drafted to serve the political purposes of Democrats. New district boundaries are eventually decided in court trials.

Dec. 15, 2011 – House Majority Whip Sheryl Williams Stapleton apologizes for referring to Martinez as “the Mexican on the fourth floor” during a confrontation with a Republican legislator. Martinez says the people of New Mexico are the ones who deserve the apology from Stapleton, the first black woman elected to the New Mexico Legislature.

Aug. 29, 2012 – Martinez delivers a well-received, prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. She tells attendees: “Growing up, I never imagined a little girl from a border town could one day become a governor.”

April 4, 2013 – A tax package passed by lawmakers in the frantic final minutes of a 60-day legislative session is signed into law by Martinez, who describes it as a “game-changer” for New Mexico’s economy. The bill reduces corporate tax rates and phases out the “hold harmless” payments the state makes to cities and counties. But the Martinez administration’s top budget official later apologizes to legislators for giving incorrect information about the bill’s fiscal impact.

April 18, 2013 – Martinez named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, with political strategist Karl Rove describing her as a “reform-minded conservative Republican.”

June 24, 2013 – Human Services Department freezes Medicaid funding for 15 nonprofit behavioral health providers, alleging overpayments, mismanagement and possible fraud. The Attorney General’s Office would eventually clear all providers of fraud, prompting searing criticism of the Martinez administration for destabilizing a system that provides services for the mentally ill and addicted.

Nov. 4, 2014 – Martinez easily wins re-election to a second term, getting more than 57 percent of the votes cast in the governor’s race to defeat then-Attorney General Gary King, a Democrat.

Feb. 16, 2015 – The state Senate votes 22-19 to confirm Hanna Skandera as New Mexico’s secretary of public education, ending a four-year long saga that hinged on Skandera’s qualifications and controversial education policies, such as a teacher evaluation system, that she had implemented.

Nov. 19, 2015 – Martinez elected by fellow GOP governors as the Republican Governors Association chairwoman at a meeting in Las Vegas, Nev. She then travels out-of-state at least 20 times for fundraisers, campaign events and political meetings in the year following her election to the high-profile post.

Dec. 12, 2015 – Martinez faces criticism after audio recordings surface of her testy, late-night telephone exchange with police dispatchers after officers responded to a Santa Fe hotel clerk’s complaint about noise and rowdy behavior during a holiday staff party. The governor later apologizes for her behavior and that of certain staffers, but insists she was not intoxicated at the time of the phone calls.

March 8, 2016 – The governor signs into law a bill putting New Mexico driver’s licenses in line with the stricter requirements of the federal Real ID Act, ending a fractious, five-year debate over whether undocumented immigrants should legally drive. Under the new law’s two-tiered system, undocumented immigrants – along with any citizens who want them – are able to get driving authorization cards.

May 24, 2016 – Donald Trump criticizes Martinez during campaign stop in Downtown Albuquerque, telling a crowd of 8,000 people that “she has to do a better job.” Martinez, who had told reporters she was too busy to attend the event, responds by saying she will not be “bullied” into supporting a candidate.

Sept. 14, 2016 – Facebook announces it will build a massive data center in Los Lunas, a move that Martinez describes as a “big win” for the state. The announcement comes two years after New Mexico missed out on a high-profile Tesla battery factory.

March 14-15, 2017 – In a flurry of action, Martinez vetoes 10 bills passed by lawmakers – most of them with broad bipartisan support – after the Senate votes to override the governor’s veto of a bill dealing with teacher absences. The state Supreme Court later invalidates the vetoes, ruling the governor did not follow proper constitutional procedures.

April 7, 2017 – Martinez uses her line-item veto authority to ax all proposed state spending for the legislative branch and New Mexico colleges and universities from a $6.1 billion budget bill passed by the Legislature. She also vetoes a $350 million tax package, paving the way for a May 2017 special session during which the vetoed higher education funding is restored.

Nov. 9, 2018 – Martinez meets for two hours with Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham, says she is handing over power at a time the state’s fiscal health is as “good as it’s ever been.”

 

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