The 2017 Legislative Session began yesterday but members of the Chamber got a pre-legislative look at Governor Martinez's top priorities heading into the first session of the 53rd Legislature. The event was held at Isleta Resort & Casino on January 12.
The Governor laid out her plan to make New Mexico solvent for FY17, despite a $69 million budget deficit, and FY18 and grow reserves by 4.3% without raising taxes. The Governor's plan includes sweeping school districts' excess reserve funds, "right-sizing" government, consolidating certain state agencies, modernizing and simplifying our tax code and eliminating subsidies for counties that raise taxes on their citizens. "Do not let anyone tell you that there is no way to solve this problem without raising taxes," said Martinez. The Governor's plan would also call for state employees to contribute more to their own retirement funds and lessen the expense to the taxpayer. According to Governor Martinez, New Mexico offers one of the most generous retirement funds in the nation to its state employees.
Governor Martinez acknowledged that it's "easier" to raise taxes, but said "we weren't elected to take the easy way out" and New Mexico families shouldn't bear the burden of the state's budget woes.
The Governor celebrated the state's increasingly diversified economy, which she credits to a number of things including economic development incentives that have encouraged businesses to locate or expand in New Mexico like JTIP (Job Training Incentive Program) and LEDA (Local Economic Development Act). "We are diversifying our economy in ways no one ever thought we could," she said.
Martinez assured the audience that she will fight for these funds to remain untouched in this session. "Gutting economic development will continue our dependence on oil and gas, it is a road map to the past, it guarantees that our current budget crisis will repeat itself over and over again... these businesses have to know that we mean business when we say we are open for business," she said.
The Governor had strong words as she left the podium: "As we enter the next Legislative Session, lawmakers have two choices; either find the courage to stand up to the status quo or don't...Let's continue with what we have done and what is proven to be the right track in education, economy and public safety. I'll never stop fighting, I've got two years left and I will fight until the end for our kids, our public safety and for the folks who invest their dollars and their own money into making sure that our kids have jobs when they're done with school."
To read the Albuquerque Journal article on our event click here.
To read Albuquerque Business First article on our event click here.