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Editorial: Work out disagreements; then call special session

“Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results”

– Narcotics Anonymous, 1981

While New Mexico needs both the capital outlay bill and the tax package that died in the closing minutes of the Legislature, there’s no point in calling a special session unless there’s a very good chance the outcome will be different.

Democrats don’t have the votes to call themselves into extraordinary session, and Gov. Susana Martinez says she won’t issue the call for a special session unless Democratic leaders in the Senate work with her on a capital improvements budget that all can agree upon – beforehand.

That makes sense and that’s what should happen. Otherwise it’s just a waste of time and taxpayer money.

Martinez blamed Senate Democrats and partisan politics for the gridlock. Democratic Senate leaders blamed the governor for being too rigid and House Republicans for stripping out some capital projects from a Senate version to make room for $45 million in road projects.

The capital improvements bill failed after hitting a big roadblock – how to fund transportation-related projects. Republicans generally wanted to pay for road work using state bonds and Democrats by increasing the tax on gasoline purchases or by using state cash reserves.

The capital outlay bill would have funded $264 million in roads, senior centers, public buildings and other infrastructure projects around the state.

But there is a second issue, just as important, that needs to be worked out before a special session is considered: the tax incentive package that would have established or enhanced tax credits for investors, border trade, research and development.

As it stands now, hundreds of construction jobs and other projects can’t move forward. That means a loss of jobs and cash that will not be going into local economies. And the demise of the package of tax breaks means less to lure new industries and retain those that are here.

Everyone can keep pointing fingers, but these failures are bad for the state. Legislative leaders should accept the governor’s offer to craft a compromise on capital outlay and tax incentives – but before a special session.

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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