April 2, 2003
Richardson Signs, Vetoes Bills
By Deborah Baker
The Associated Press
SANTA FE A proposal that New Mexico invest in expensive art and musical instruments struck a wrong chord with Gov. Bill Richardson.
He vetoed the measure on Wednesday, calling it too risky.
Acting on the first big batch of bills since the legislative session ended March 22, Richardson signed three dozen measures and vetoed six others.
He gave thumbs-up to a bill that allows New Mexico to continue with the multi-state Powerball lottery if Mexico joins it in the future.
Under the old law, New Mexico could join only with other states in lottery games. The new law expands that to other nations and to Indian tribes.
The vetoed investment bill would have allowed up to 3 percent of the state's Severance Tax Permanent Fund to be put into fine art worth up to $6.5 million and fine instruments worth up to $8 million.
Supporters said investing in the high-end art and instruments would be more lucrative than conventional investments.
But Richardson said in his veto message that the permanent fund is supposed to provide a reliable income stream, and it "would not be prudent" to give the go-ahead for the investments without a detailed risk analysis.
Richardson signed a bill for pilot "kindergarten plus" programs in high-poverty areas that would extend the school year, to help youngsters who begin school with lower literacy and social skills.
The program will target the Albuquerque, Gallup-McKinley, Gadsden and Las Cruces school districts.
A task force to help communities reduce their forest fire risk won Richardson's approval.
The 11-member panel of state, county, federal, and Indian officials, along with firefighters, will make recommendations to the governor and Legislature by Dec. 15, and then annually.
The governor also signed a requirement that the sales price of residential property be disclosed to county assessors.
Supporters of the bill said assessors need the pricing information to accurately assess the market value of homes and real estate for property tax purposes.
The information provided to the assessor would remain confidential and not become public record.
Richardson also signed a measure that allows the state Game Commission to require bear-proof garbage containers on public and private lands.
Among the other bills he vetoed was one that would have required the Senate to reconfirm cabinet secretaries whom a governor kept from his preceding term.
Richardson said the proposal "unnecessarily intrudes upon the governor's appointment authority."