SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico’s annual debate over capital outlay, or “pork,” spending shows no signs of abating.
Gov. Susana Martinez signed a trio of bills today that authorize funding for hundreds of bricks-and-mortar projects around the state.
But the Republican governor also used her line-item veto authority to strike down more than 150 projects, and chastised lawmakers for having an “irresponsible” approach to infrastructure spending.
“It is frustrating and disappointing to watch how the Legislature squanders critical infrastructure funding — choosing to spend money on local pork projects that often do not create jobs or develop the economy instead of pooling resources to make long-lasting, impactful improvements throughout the state,” Martinez said in her executive message to House leaders.
Projects axed by Martinez included $5,000 for band instruments at a Las Vegas high school, $10,000 for wrestling mats in Gallup and $20,000 to renovate facilities and buy zoo animals in Clovis.
She also vetoed a few big-ticket projects in a separate capital outlay bill, such as $8 million for a new health education building at the University of New Mexico’s campus in Rio Rancho.
Martinez has previously clashed with the Legislature over the state’s capital outlay system, objecting to the practices of only providing partial funding for projects and granting dollars for projects not sought by local government leaders.
But many lawmakers have been reluctant to sign off on changes to the state’s current system, in large part due to fear it could mean less money going to their districts.
In all, the governor signed off on roughly $158 million worth of projects in the annual capital outlay bill backed by future severance tax revenue, House Bill 219, while vetoing $8.2 million worth of projects.
She authorized $174.4 million in a separate capital outlay bill, Senate Bill 122, the general obligation bond bill, while vetoing $10.9 million worth of projects from that legislation, which now goes before statewide voters in November.