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Editorial: Lowlights continue; more state-funded pork to snort at

Monday’s editorial on New Mexico’s worst-in-show system for doling out infrastructure cash, known as capital outlay, included several questionable projects. Once again, proposed legislation that would have reformed the system, prioritized projects – or at least attached lawmakers’ names to their pet funding requests – failed to make it through the Legislature.

(Kudos to the House Republican caucus, which Tuesday asked that GOP lawmakers’ funded capital outlay expenditures and dollar amounts be posted on the Legislature’s website.)

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has been an outspoken advocate of government transparency and of big thinking. Here’s hoping she’s a critic of piecemeal spending on partial projects, items that won’t last the life of the 10-year bonds that finance them and things that bear no resemblance to infrastructure or state taxpayer responsibility – especially considering the $3 billion in deferred maintenance on state roads and bridges, communities on boil-water advisories for years and areas that are literal dead zones for phone and internet connectivity.

Here are a few more of many items in House Bill 349 the governor should seriously consider vetoing unless she gets a great explanation (we wish her luck getting those given the anonymous system):

⋄ $222,000, Steinway model D concert piano, New Mexico Philharmonic

⋄ $700,000, steel building in Raton – no use listed

⋄ $65,000, new flag retirement facility, Albuquerque

⋄ $820,000, alpine toboggan slides, zip lines, mountain biking facilities and snow-making waterlines

⋄ $199,500, new Smokey Bear balloon, cold air display balloons and a fifth-wheel equipment trailer

⋄ $100,000, concession stand and lightning shelter, somewhere in Albuquerque

⋄ $99,706, tandem vibratory roller, Ruidoso Downs

And here a few items the governor should definitely veto, regardless of how deserving they appear to be, because our debt payment will last longer than they will:

⋄ $300,000, Albuquerque police motorcycles

⋄ $197,000, JROTC items including rifles and marksmanship target ranges, Albuquerque Public Schools

⋄ $110,000, band uniforms and instruments, Española schools

⋄ $48,000, instruments, costumes and recording equipment, Las Vegas Public Schools’ Mariachi Cardenal

⋄ $40,000, mats, clocks, furniture and other equipment, junior wrestling program in Santa Fe.

Taxpayers should join the governor in vetting HB 349’s full list of justifiable, and questionable, projects at nm.legis.gov.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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