Friday, February 19, 2010

My Quick Take on the Regular Session

For the second year in a row the Speaker of the House was unable to deliver the votes at the last minute, and as a result a Special Session is required. Last year, you may recall, the Speaker lost an Albuquerque TIDDS bill he badly wanted at the last minute in front of a packed House gallery full of TIDDS supporters, and he was shamed into withdrawing a pork provision to finance a movie studio for a Santa Fe film company (which had failed earlier as a regular bill) when Sen. John A. Smith opened up a conference committee to the news media (See my coverage of this here on March 21 2009).

This year the Speaker and the governor were not able to twist enough arms to get the House to pass a budget bill, which is the one thing a 30-day session is intended to produce.

The Senate did its job. It came in with a $5.275 billion budget, a reasonably responsible level. You can argue with what they did and failed to do, such as playing with, rather than enacting, ethics reform, but senate leaders did produce a balanced budget with modest spending cuts and light tax increases. They also acted with more courage than usual, lining up enough votes to request an Extraordinary Session, which would enable the legislature to deal with the budget on their own terms rather than on the governor's. Last October the governor produced a Special Session agenda that essentially hamstrung the legislature's ability to deal with the fiscal crisis in a responsible way, and the Senate did not want to give the governor a chance to do the same again. The House leadership, of course, deferred to the governor, and there will be no Extraordinary Session but the senate movida certainly underscored the lack of independence between House leadership and the lame duck governor, and provides perhaps some perspective on the House's refusal to go along with the Speaker on the budget at the last minute.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dr Garcia,

It appears as if everything that the main stream media is printing is that the NM Speaker of the House is a big blame to the current mess the state is in. The Speaker of the House seems to be nothing more that a rubber stamp to King Bill.