During his time in Alamogordo, Sanchez visited with officials at Holloman Air Force Base and members of the Republican Party of Otero County’s at their monthly meeting.
“We have a tendency to get in the bubble in Santa Fe, especially after the long 60-day session,” Sanchez said. “I think the legislators are out doing their post-legislative session town hall meetings and we’re doing the same thing as well. I’ll continue travelling around New Mexico listening to, not the politicals, but the average taxpayer.”
Of the 60-day legislative session, Sanchez said Gov. Susana Martinez is not happy with the budget.
“I was with the governor (Wednesday) at the Board of Finance at the Capitol and we didn’t discuss what her intentions are but I know that she was not very pleased with the budget that was passed,” he said. “I think some of the other legislation that would’ve raised, I think the estimate was well over $300 million worth of new revenue through higher taxes, clearly in her mind was not how we’re going to balance the budget.”
Sanchez said if there hadn’t been fiscal responsibility in New Mexico’s finances for the last six years or if Democrats had been in charge of the state government, the budget situation would’ve been extreme.
“Some predicted New Mexico would be facing insolvency,” Sanchez said. “I think it’s important New Mexicans understand that because of a very disciplined responsible approach to how we spend New Mexico tax dollars in Santa Fe, we’re in a better place.”
When asked about cuts to public education, including the issues of teacher shortages and salary cuts, Sanchez placed blame with New Mexico’s over-reliance on the oil and gas industry and the federal government.
“The diversification of our economy will iron out those peaks and valleys,” Sanchez said. “If you look at our surrounding states, we’re still spending more per capita than most states on average. Now, I’m not suggesting we continue to cut back on education, we have to make sure those investments and where we’re spending our money are proper but in the same token, there are still areas in the state budget that we could look to modify and get us through this tough period.”
Sanchez said it all comes down to the legislature coming back and being serious about working with the executive branch and hammering out a new budget.
“I think both sides are going to have to compromise, there has to be some compromise there,” he said. “This current budget does not really do what we think the majority of New Mexicans are hoping for and that is looking at not being fiscally responsible and at the same time, doing the easy thing – raising taxes and fees. Look at the bill they passed in order to generate that revenue, 10 cents across the board on gasoline. That’s such a regressive tax to hard working families, especially poor families, that’s really going to be a burden on them.”
When asked where the state will get their revenue, Sanchez responded that fiscal discipline is the answer.
“We’re always looking at slicing the economic pie thinner and thinner slices,” Sanchez said. “The Democrat controlled legislature have put forward very few proposals that will help us grow the economy and thereby growing the economic pie. We’re not looking at raising taxes, we’re simply generating more taxpayers.”
He said he met with Mexican leaders to assure them the state is actively pursuing a great trade relationship with Mexico.
“I hosted the Mexico Consul General in my office in Santa Fe during the session and we had some very robust talks in light of a unique political environment,” Sanchez said. “My message was to him is that we continue to see Mexico as one of the most important segments of our future economy through trade and manufacturing. New Mexico is well positioned for those. We’ve seen great growth there, the investment along the border, which by the way doesn’t just benefit Doña Ana County.”
As far as President Donald Trump’s intention to build a border wall, Sanchez said most Americans understand securing the border is a matter of national security and public safety.
“Somebody put it this way, a big tall wall with big big gates,” Sanchez said. “The ability for us to continue to trade with Mexico, and with other nations, is in the best long-term interests of our nation economically. We have shared values with Mexico, tradition, bloodlines – that’s important. At the same time, there are challenges. I think most Americans and I would say for a lot of cases a lot of New Mexicans aren’t fully aware of the real danger at the border. You have narco-terrorists, human-trafficking at the border – those are real. I think the president’s commitment to securing the border is important, the question is how does he go about it.”
©2017 the Alamogordo Daily News (Alamogordo, N.M.)
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