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February 18, 2023

Updated: Jan 26


HB 2 – “The Budget

Before we talk numbers, I believe it is important to clarify the status of our beloved state as compared to the other states. I believe it is also critical that we recognize that these numbers vary insignificantly from our ranking pre-covid.

Out of 50 States and including Washington, DC - NM Currently Ranks:

K-12 Education – 51st

Violent Crime - 50th

Right to Work – 50th

Sales Tax Burden – 49th

Public Employees Per 10,000 Population – 41st

Poverty Level – 48th

Welfare Dependency – 49th

Unemployment Rate – 50th

Spending Per Capita – 42nd

Debt Ranking – 40th

Overall Governor’s Ranking – 50th

What you will see below is clear, our colleagues on the left believe the only way to fix the problem is to throw money at it. There is no desire to address the problem, let’s just give them more money. For example: The real issue in our public schools exists in Santa Fe within the Public Education Department NOT at the local level. But instead of addressing the issue, let’s give them more money, 101.8% increase since 2019. Percentages vary, but the same can be said for CYFD, Health Services, EMNRD, etc.

The General Fund Operating Budget for the State of New Mexico under the current administration has ballooned from FY 2019 at $6.3B to FY 2024 at $9.4B while the population in NM has remained all but stagnant (an increase of 0.7%, or around 15,000).

During House Appropriation’s committee, I worked hard to ensure we increased funding to critical areas: Teacher Pay Raises, School Nutrition Programs, Aging and Long-Term Services, Veteran’s Services Department, Law Enforcement and First Responders, and Infrastructure. That said, the overspend is out of control. Of the 131 Agency Codes within the budget, more that 54% of the departments transferred money from Salary and Benefits to a category defined as “other” that allows them to spend the money without reporting accountability. More than 67% of these agencies reverted money back, yet the directive from the fourth floor was “shoot for the moon” we have the money.

House Republicans attempted several floor amendments to move money from underperforming agencies with escalated budgets to areas that help residents. One example: Eliminate $100M from the Conservation Legacy Permanent Fund (aka – The Governor’s 30 x 30 Plan) and transfer to Law Enforcement for the battle against fentanyl and to the Office of Military Affairs for Border Enforcement. Each amendment was found unfriendly and tabled.

In the end, the budget passed the house on a 52 – 17 vote. I voted no, this budget is not fiscally conservative.

HB 205 – Meat Inspection Act

This legislation is the “Meat Inspection Act (MIA)” and it gives the New Mexico Livestock Bureau authority to establish inspectors, to implement inspections and ensure quality of meat for human consumption. The act additionally establishes a statutory authority to Office of Meat and Poultry Inspection Director that would provide inspection stamps, establishment numbers, provide penalties and provide exemptions.

The MIA provides more access to state entities for locally raised meat products for locally raised meat products to increase already existing programs such as: SNAP, Farm-to-School, Farm-to-Food Bank, and many others.

This bill passed the house unanimously.

HB 95/a – Renewable Energy Office in State Land Office (SLO)

This bill creates the Office of Renewable Energy within the SLO. According to the bill sponsor, the sole purpose of this bill is to statutorily create an office that cannot be dissolved by future administrations.

The reality, Renewables generate less than $12M per year in revenue to the SLO. Unfortunately most revenues are offset due to local IRB’s and statewide subsidies. In addition, Renewable Energy has 4 full-time employees within the SLO. All this does is create another layer of bureaucracy.

This legislation passed the house 48 – 19. I voted no.

HB 40/a – Nontraditional Communication Registry

This legislation creates a registry within the MVD that may be used by law enforcement during a traffic stop to know ahead of time that the driver or occupant of a vehicle is not able to communicate or follow traditional directives due to a disability.

Sounds very altruistic! No, this is not the first time the representative has brought forward this legislation. The first time I saw this bill was 2021. In reality, this is a “sand-trap” for law enforcement and opens the door for civil rights cases against LEO’s due to a lack of guidelines on how to handle each situation.

I voted no 2 years ago, and voted no this year. This bill passed the house.

HB 195/a – Forest Conservation Act Amendments

This bill updates language within the NM Forest Conservation Act to allow State Forestry personnel on private property during wildfires for the purpose of fire suppression.

HB 195/a passed the house unanimously.

HB 46/a – Public Works Project Contributions

Simply put, this bill unionizes public works projects and requires public works construction contractors to make contributions to programs approved by the Department of Workforce Solutions. This legislation will increase the cost of road and infrastructure projects by over 20% and take $0.60/hour of pay away from construction workers to fund the programs.

I voted no on this bill 2 years ago and I voted no on it this year. This legislation passed the house 36 – 25.

HB 113/a – Magistrate Court Changes

HB 113 makes changes to the qualifications of a magistrate judge and expands the jurisdiction to include the entire judicial district and gives magistrates statewide jurisdiction over motor vehicles with the exception of DUIs.

This bill passed the house 46 – 14, I voted no.

HB 155 – Aggravated Battery on Peace Officer Penalty

This legislation increases penalties and makes the crime of aggravated battery against a peace office a second degree felony (currently a third degree felony) if the battery inflicts “great bodily harm or death” or “is done with a deadly weapon”.

This bill passed the house unanimously.

HB 216 - LESC Public Education Study

This legislation creates a study committee to study issues related to NM Public Education Department (PED). Specifically, it will include laws governing education, policies and costs of the education system in NM and recommend changes.

This bill passed the house unanimously.

HB 198 - Career Tech Funds for Indian Ed Schools

HB 198 would include: Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) secondary schools as eligible applicants for the Career Technical Education (CTE) Pilot Project and provides provisions for these schools to be eligible for grants.

This bill passed the house unanimously.

Email: rpettigrew@randallpettigrew.com

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