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Gov. Martinez, Catholic Leaders Air Differences Over Breakfast

SANTA FE — Gov. Susana Martinez said this morning she has a “very good” relationship with the state’s Roman Catholic bishops, despite ongoing disagreements between the governor and the church over early childhood education funding and the state’s driver’s license law.

“I’m used to having two sides of an issue,” Martinez told reporters after joining Catholic leaders at a prayer breakfast in Santa Fe.

With roughly 40 lawmakers looking on over breakfast, Archbishop Michael Sheehan urged Martinez to seek middle ground on her push to repeal the 2003 law that allows illegal immigrants to obtain New Mexico driver’s licenses.

Other bishops spoke of their support for a constitutional amendment that would require more money be siphoned from the state’s largest permanent fund for expand early education programs.

Martinez, who did not address the driver’s license issue in her remarks, responded by reiterating her opposition to the permanent fund proposal.

“I don’t agree with raiding the permanent fund,” Martinez said. “I agree with doing things that measure progress.”

Instead, she touted her support for other early childhood initiatives (which can be found in this story by my colleague Hailey Heinz), saying, “We continue to do the same thing and think that dollars are going to make a difference.”

The governor also spoke privately with Sheehan for several minutes before leaving the prayer breakfast.