Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
Public safety, bail reform and making New Mexico a national hub for hydrogen development are near the top of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s list of priorities for the legislative session in 2022.
Speaking Tuesday at a luncheon hosted by the New Mexico chapter of commercial real estate organization NAIOP, the governor highlighted the state’s economic progress over the last few years and laid out her vision for how the state can continue to shake off the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Taken together, Lujan Grisham said the three proposals can help the state build on some of its successes over the past few years.
“I stand before you today feeling really good about where we are, and about our potential future,” Lujan Grisham said.
Lujan Grisham, who plans to run for reelection in 2022, has talked about each of her legislative priorities at various forums over the past several weeks, but provided additional insight into what New Mexicans can expect from the upcoming session. New Mexico has 30-day sessions in even-numbered years that are generally limited to budgetary matters and issues authorized for debate by the governor.
An influx of federal dollars and a recovering oil and gas industry means the state is expected to have around $1.4 billion in “new” money in the coming year, which represents the difference between expected revenue and the state’s current budget.
“It means that we have incredible resources at our disposal to do any number of things,” Lujan Grisham said.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for the governor to better address public safety following a wave of violent crime in Albuquerque. During the luncheon, Lujan Grisham said she plans to ask for $100 million to help fund efforts to hire 1,000 officers across the state. The funding would also help standardize training and certifications. The influx of money would help alleviate the problem of officers jumping to a new jurisdiction, which Lujan Grisham called a chronic problem.
“We need to think about how we do that differently,” she said.
On bail reform, the governor said she wants to shift the burden of proof so that people charged with violent offenses where a weapon is used are required to show they can safely be released.
“We think that’s going to be a sea change in what we’re seeing occur in every jurisdiction,” she said.
Last month, the governor discussed plans to make New Mexico a national leader in hydrogen development, which Lujan Grisham said will help decarbonize the nation’s transportation infrastructure and potentially generate “billions” of dollars for the state. Some environmental advocates have raised concerns about using hydrogen in this capacity, calling the technology unproven, according to previous Journal reporting.
Despite the impact of the pandemic, the governor said she was encouraged by the state’s economic progress over the past couple years. Lujan Grisham noted that property values across the state increased by 14%, and the state has recorded a 4% increase in overall economic activity over the past two years. She also cited unofficial reports showing that more people moved to New Mexico than from it during the pandemic.
However, she added that the state also has 83,000 open jobs. She told the crowd of businesspeople that she would like to see a public-private “strike force” designed to get people into new jobs and recruit workers from other states, augmenting work from other state and local initiatives.
“We have all of those programs in place, but in the meantime, we have to go out and actively recruit folks to come to New Mexico,” Lujan Grisham said.