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Saturday, March 22, 2003

Pork Bill Heads to Gov.

By David Miles
Journal Capitol Bureau
    SANTA FE Legislators on Friday sent Gov. Bill Richardson a bill providing more than $147 million to pay for hundreds of public works projects across the state.
    The Senate approved the bill (HB 200) on a 39-0 vote, and the House later agreed to Senate changes on a voice vote.
    Earlier Friday, Richardson said he planned to use his line-item veto to scrap some projects that he deemed to be wasteful. But he also defended the bulk of the capital outlay projects, which critics often derisively refer to as pork.
    "Capital outlay in many places is economic development," Richardson said at a Capitol news conference.
    The bill includes nearly $90 million from severance tax bonds and $36.8 million from the state's general fund.
    The bill contains $29.3 million for 605 construction and capital improvement projects in Bernalillo County, including $2.3 million to extend University Boulevard to Mesa del Sol and $1.2 million for the Explora Science Center and Children's Museum of Albuquerque.
    The measure also includes $2 million for improvements at the University of New Mexico's stadium.
    Other capital outlay projects in the bill include:
   
  • $5 million for the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe;
       
  • $5 million for renovations at the Miner's Colfax Medical Center;
       
  • $2.2 million for building renovations at New Mexico Highlands University;
       
  • $1.1 million for improvements at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility near Las Cruces.
        Charts itemizing the capital outlay projects can be found on the Legislature's Web site for HB 200 at http://legis.state.nm.us