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Gov.’s Capital Plan Gets Support

SANTA FE – An unlikely alliance – a prominent business group and a leading labor organization – have teamed up to back Gov. Susana Martinez’s package of statewide public works projects.

The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and the New Mexico Federation of Labor joined forces earlier this week. They claim approval of the $213 million capital outlay package would boost the state’s economy by creating new jobs.

“There is nothing more important right now than supporting business as it works to recover from the recession,” said Terri Cole, president and CEO of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.

The package of statewide projects proposed by the Martinez administration include renovations for state roads and highways, new State Police vehicles, repairs to several state government buildings and new heating and cooling systems for three state-run prisons.

While some Democrats are backing the plan, others, including Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith of Deming, have advocated passing a pared-down list of public works projects- totaling $81 million – due to concern about the state’s long-term bonding capacity and credit rating.

Capital outlay bills have been introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate during the special legislative session, which began Sept. 6, but none of the bills had been acted upon through Tuesday.

Both the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and the New Mexico Federation of Labor said in a joint statement released Monday that they intend to lobby the Legislature this week to support the full public works package.

Any public works projects approved during the special session would be financed by severance tax bonds, which are backed by taxes on oil and natural gas production.

Lawmakers failed to pass a capital outlay bill on the final day of the 60-day session that ended in March, partly because of a filibuster by Senate Republicans who were upset one of Martinez’s education bills had not been voted upon.
— This article appeared on page A6 of the Albuquerque Journal