Heinrich weighs in on governor's vetoes, expressing displeasure about axed proposals - Albuquerque Journal

Heinrich weighs in on governor’s vetoes, expressing displeasure about axed proposals

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., honors the late Rep. J. Paul Taylor during February remarks to a joint session of the New Mexico Legislature. Heinrich said this weekend he was “disappointed” by some of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s vetoes of bills passed this year. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

SANTA FE — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s sweeping line-item vetoes of a massive tax bill have drawn criticism from some fellow Democrats — including U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich.

Heinrich said on social media this weekend he was “disappointed” by the governor’s vetoes of tax provisions that would have benefitted families, veterans and educators.

He also cited vetoed climate-focused tax incentives in the bill, including tax credits for electric vehicles, energy storage systems and geothermal energy generation.

“New Mexico’s state Legislature took bold action for our state,” Heinrich said. “I am disappointed to see those efforts now vetoed.”

In a message to lawmakers after her vetoes, Lujan Grisham said she had concerns about the sustainability of the tax package, saying the package’s ultimate cost of more than $1.1 billion in annual foregone revenue could have lead to future spending cuts.

The two-term governor, who began her second term in January, also said she was committed to keep building a “fairer, more productive tax environment” over the next three years.

In addition, the governor defended her administration’s work on environmental issues, citing a bill she signed that will appropriate $100 million for two new trust funds that will provide regular dollars for forest restoration and other conservation programs.

“I absolutely reject some of the really sharp criticism that we didn’t do enough on the environment,” Lujan Grisham said during a Friday news conference.

However, the vetoed tax provisions dealing with alternative energy represented only a fraction of the tax package’s total price tag.

The electric vehicle tax credit would have cost up to $7.4 million per year, while the cost of the credit for energy storage systems was projected to be about $4 million annually, according to a fiscal estimate of the bill.

Meanwhile, Heinrich’s foray into state government issues could increase speculation about his possible interest in running for governor in 2026.

When asked in February, Heinrich told the Journal he was focused on his 2024 reelection campaign to the Senate seat he’s held since 2013, but declined to rule out a possible gubernatorial bid.

Several Democratic lawmakers have also expressed displeasure about the governor’s vetoes, which were finalized on the final day for Lujan Grisham to take action on bills passed during this year’s 60-day legislative session.

House Speaker Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque, said in a statement the final version of the tax package contains some key provisions but “falls short of the promises made to small businesses — including child care providers — who are the backbone of our economy.”

Rep. Debra Sariñana, D-Albuquerque, who worked on several of the energy-related tax credits included in the package, said Monday she was also disappointed by the governor’s vetoes.

“I thought it was a pretty thoughtful tax package,” Sariñana said in an interview.

A Lujan Grisham spokeswoman declined to comment Monday on the criticism levied by Heinrich and other Democrats regarding the governor’s vetoes.

While the governor used her line-item veto power to slice most of the provisions out of the tax package, she did leave intact an expanded child tax credit, changes to New Mexico’s film incentive program and a $500 tax rebate — married couples filing jointly will get a $1,000 check.

In all, the governor vetoed 35 bills passed by lawmakers this year — her highest veto rate since taking office in 2019.

Heinrich also took issue with one of those standalone vetoes, tweeting his disappointment that Lujan Grisham vetoed a bill that would have established new child welfare office in the state Attorney General’s Office.

That bill was pocket vetoed by the governor, meaning it died when she declined to sign or veto in advance of Friday’s deadline.

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