Posts Tagged ‘Special Sessions’

The Governor of La La Land

Monday, October 26th, 2009

That’s the only way to look at it. Governor Richardson has officially relocated to La La Land:

  1. Los Angeles, California (often abbreviated L.A.). This expression pokes fun at the alleged eccentricities of the city’s inhabitants. For example, What do you expect? Frederick has lived in la-la land for ten years and it has rubbed off on him. [Slang; c. 1980]

  2. A state of being out of touch with reality, as in I don’t know what’s going on with Amy–she seems to be in la-la land. [Slang; c. 1980] Also see cloud-cuckoo land; never-never land.

No, I don’ mean that he has moved to Los Angeles – although, one could only hope. But, like Frederick in the example above, it appears that Governor Richardson’s contact with Hollywood’s elite has altered his perception of reality:

New Mexico lawmakers on Friday wrapped up their special legislative session, sending Gov. Bill Richardson a package of measures to repair a $650 million budget shortfall this year.

“It isn’t pretty. It doesn’t solve the problem; we know that. But it’s a step forward,” Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, said before the Legislature adjourned.

The package includes spending cuts of about $253 million this year in public schools, colleges and other government programs.

Richardson criticized what he said were “excessive” cuts to state agencies, and warned they could result in layoffs and reduced services.

That is the only possible explanation for the Governor’s reaction to the recently ended special session. See, when you have a $650 million deficit and growing, and you only cut $526 million, that leaves a gaping hole of a whopping $124 million. No one in their right mind would call those cuts “excessive” as they clearly fall far short of the mark of what’s needed.

Then again, I guess if you’re a Governor living in “cloud-cuckoo land” you’re not really in your right mind.

Budget Cuts Shouldn’t Hurt Kids

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Governor Richardson’s mantra going into the Special Session this weekend is a simple one: “Budget cuts shouldn’t hurt kids.” It’s one that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn had been voter tested and approved:

But most interesting was $38,353 paid for “research/polling” to a company called Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates in Santa Monica, Calif. Nearly all the money was paid in June, a much smaller chunk paid in September.

It’s a simple message, and a nice diversion tactic. Governor Richardson gets to avoid taking ownership for spending New Mexico into a crisis. He gets to pretend to be the great savior of our children, while trying to turn the legislature into the big bad wolf:

Gov. Bill Richardson late Tuesday rejected legislative proposals to plug a state budget gap that’s now expected to top $650 million, saying at least two of them would cut too much money for public schools.

Richardson called for lawmakers to try again before a special legislative session on the budget starts Saturday.

“Governor Richardson has studied the legislative proposals and finds the cuts to education unacceptable because of the severe impact to teachers and kids,” Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said. “The governor wants one proposal from the Legislature, not three, that makes fiscally responsible cuts without hurting schools.”

But, here’s the thing. The Richardson Administration, and to a great extent the rubber-stamping majority in the legislature have done more to damage education in New Mexico over the last seven years, then anything some cost-cutting could ever do. They’ve herald one supposed “great” education reform after another without ever actually doing anything to improve education for our children. Worse yet, they’ve refused to ever take ownership of their repeated failures:

A new batch of testing results shows New Mexico students’ math scores are among the nation’s worst, with little change from previous years.

The data, released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress and often called the Nation’s Report Card, shows New Mexico’s fourth-graders with an average math score of 230 out of 500. The national average was 239.

The New Mexico average score for eighth-graders was 270, compared to a national average of 282.

The achievement gap between New Mexico’s Anglo students and students of other ethnicities remained wide, without significant change from 2007.

Secretary of Education Veronica Garcia said the overall numbers may not provide a fair comparison because of the small sample of students tested. About 11 percent of New Mexico’s fourth-graders and 10 percent of eighth-graders took the test.

Garcia also said students and teachers in New Mexico often do not take the test very seriously because scores are not broken down by district or school. She said other states use incentives to raise awareness about the test’s importance.

Oh yeah, that’s the problem with the test scores. We don’t have a big enough media campaign to let our kids know that tests are important. They actually know all of the information, there just not taking the test seriously. GIVE ME A BREAK! Here’s a novel idea… How about taking ownership for the education failures?

Look, year after year, we’ve thrown ever-increasing pots of money at education with ever-worsening results. How about we try something different? Go ahead and cut education spending. Let’s stop pretending the children are going to get hurt. Based on the test results released year after year, it can’t get much worse for them.

And, as long as we’re making cuts, how about getting rid of the hundreds of governor created and appointed positions drawing down comfortable salaries for absolutely no work. In fact, let’s fire everyone who can’t seem to get their department to actually provide the services they are supposed to be providing.

Heck, why stop there? Let’s just fire everyone who refuses to take responsibilities for seven years of failures and fiscal mismanagement. Start with Governor Richardson and don’t stop until you find someone who says, “I’ve totally and completely messed up, and this is how I’m going to fix it.” My guess is that before you find that person, the budget will actually be balanced.

Balancing State Budget Without Taxes or Cuts

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

A special session of the New Mexico legislature will be called to address an expected budget shortfall. Governor Richardson had this to say:

Richardson blamed the shortfalls on the national recession, and he urged lawmakers to avoid layoffs, repealing tax cuts or “drastically cutting services.”

Ok, we’re going to balance the budget without increasing revenue, and without cutting spending. Hmmm… I guess that leaves… um… magic?

And, for Governor Richardson’s next trick, he will attempt to hypnotize the entire state (or at least the voting population and media) into forgetting that a spending spree on steroids is what caused our financial budget crisis in New Mexico.

“Because our budget deficit is directly related to the national recession, I want to make sure that we don’t take any action that might cost jobs or adversely affect the state economy,” Richardson said in the release.

Wow. What an act!

Governor Richardson’s Priorities

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Governor Bill Richardson called the legislators into a special legislative session and according to an article by Winthrop Quigley And Jeff Jones our State Senators were less than pleased with the Governor for doing so (subscription):

State senators on Sunday panned a $58 million-a-year children’s health coverage plan by Gov. Bill Richardson, while blasting the governor himself for calling them into a special legislative session.

Angry senators said the session is unnecessary, will accomplish little and was called only to serve Richardson’s national political ambitions.

“I really have no earthly idea why we are in this building except to serve the political purposes of this governor,” Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, said during a hearing on Richardson’s proposal to provide universal children’s health coverage — a bill the Senate, acting as a committee of the whole, later voted to table.

Sen. Kent Cravens, R-Albuquerque, said a legislative staff analysis of the bill amounts to “a list of reasons not to do this.” And he said it was introduced to give Richardson, who is discussed as a possible Democratic vice-presidential nominee, a “headline” for his speech later this month to the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

The bill is “about self-glorification of a man who is moving on,” Cravens said.

Richardson spokeswoman Alarie Ray-Garcia said later, “Governor Richardson is not concerned about personal attacks made by a couple members of the Senate. Rather his focus, as it always has been, is on getting meaningful legislation passed to give 50,000 uninsured children access to health care and provide relief to working families who are struggling because of high gas prices.”

Ok, let’s just skip straight to the meat of this issue. Richardson’s spokeswoman would have us believe that this session is about the importance of providing 50,000 uninsured children access to health care. The problem with this argument is that Govenor Richardson has been in office since 2002. That means that he has had at least six regular sessions to allocate $58 million for uninsured kids. However, he had more important priorities, for example:

  1. Richardson chose to give billionaire Richard Branson a $100 million gift that just keeps on giving, rather than providing 50,000 uninsured children with access to health care.

  2. Spending over $400 million and counting for a train that serves a very small percentage of the overall state population.
  3. Increasing annual spending by over $2 billion – including an 11% increase in one year alone – without ever giving a second thought to 50,000 children.
  4. Even fish farms have ranked higher than the 50,000 uninsured children.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Oh, and lest you think I’m just just conveniently neglecting to give the Govenor credit for the other “purpose” of this special session – “ provide relief to working families who are struggling because of high gas prices” – it’s important to remember that both the Governor’s spaceport and train require an increase in gross receipts taxes in order to operate long term.

In other words, both of these pet projects require a regressive tax, which takes far more from the working poor than the Governor is offering to give back.

Governor Loses in a Showdown

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

The Senate showed during the last legislative session that it had a backbone, and it looks like that just may be a contagious condition around the Roundhouse (subscription):

Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, put it more diplomatically.

“The governor was gone for a year. And things in our state have changed in a year,” she said.

“He can’t run for re-election. For some people, that is a factor— lame-duck governor.”

House Minority Whip Dan Foley, R-Roswell, said he has noticed a change this year in legislators’ attitude toward Richardson.

“There seems to be many more Democrats standing up (to Richardson) this year,” Foley said.

Signs of legislative independence are abundant.

Apparently, backbones among legislators is not something Governor Bill Richardson finds particularly enamoring. Or, maybe he just didn’t like reading a headline in the state’s largest paper that screamed, “Is Gov. Now A Lame Duck?” The Governor is bent on testing those newly found backbones with threats and challenges (subscription):

Richardson said he would press the Legislature in 2009 to address the employer payment mandate and insurance requirement if lawmakers approve an acceptable health care bill this session.

The governor hinted that he would call a special session if lawmakers fail to make the change he wants for the appointment of the authority’s executive director.

“I don’t pose veiled threats. I’ve had special sessions before,” Richardson said. ” And I’d say the odds are, if there is insufficient action on health care reform, there will be a special session.”

Well, I’d say “odds are” if the Governor called a special session when every member of the Legislature is up for re-election, he will unequivocally prove that he is a lame duck Governor. I am confident that Senate, and quite possibly the House, will stick it to him by adjourning sine die just as they have before when the Governor has unreasonably called a special session.

ABQ Journal Editorial Non Sequitur

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

Talk about missing the mark, the Albuquerque Journal missed it today and missed it by a long shot. How can the editorial board of the state’s largest daily newspaper be so easily duped as to believe “ethics reform” is going to have any effect on stopping crooks, thieves and swindlers?

Read this opening paragraph to today’s editorial (subscription):

If having the former leader of the New Mexico Senate indicted in a multimillion-dollar kickback scheme doesn’t scream “we need ethics reform,” then probably nothing does.

Most states have limits on campaign contributions. Most have some form of an independent ethics commission empowered to oversee public officials. But in New Mexico, the sky’s still the limit when it comes to campaign donations, and government officials are still expected to police themselves.

That is a complete and total non sequitur. What in the world does a construction kickback scheme have to do with campaign contributions? Anybody want to bet that Governor Richardson’s folks walked into the editorial board and fed them this nonsense? Probably no need to bet, since the giveaway is found towards the end of the editorial:

Despite prodding from Gov. Bill Richardson, neither ethics measure was deemed worthy enough of lawmakers’ attention to warrant up-or-down roll call votes. And that should get the public’s attention.

Give me a break. Governor Bill Richardson has steered the biggest and most successful pay to play administration New Mexico has ever seen. Moreover, this is the Governor who fought tooth and nail to keep any campaign contribution limits from being thrust upon him before he ran for re-election. C’mon Journal, it was only a year ago, and it was reported in your pages (subscription):

Gov. Bill Richardson wants lawmakers to postpone work on broad ethics or lobbying reforms until next year and instead focus on anti-corruption proposals developed in the wake of a kickback scandal involving state treasurers.

Richardson’s comments came Wednesday after a Senate committee unanimously approved a bill to prohibit campaign contributions and most gifts to legislators and state elected officials — such as the governor and treasurer — from companies and individuals providing investment or financial services to the state.

At the time, Governor Richardson gave some lame excuse about thirty days not being enough time to fully consider ethics reform. So, please explain to me, if thirty days is not enough time, then how the heck is a week and a half special session enough time?

It’s mind blowing to me that the editorial board fell for such obvious political spin. They should be seasoned enough to have recognized it for what it was. An absentee Governor trying to save face for making a poor executive decision by forcing the legislature back into session right on the heels of a 60 day session.

Quick Note to Our Wise State Senators

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

Dear New Mexico State Senators:

Please don’t believe the spin coming out of the Governor’s office that is intended to remove your backbone and get you to vote up or down on the bills being pushed in this ridiculous special session. I say ridiculous because if these were issues of real importance to New Mexicans, they would have been addressed during the regular 60 day sessions along with the VERY important issues of the day – like cockfighting.

Plus, let’s face it, Governor Bill Richardson can’t really be all that committed to the bills he has before you. If he was, Governor Richardson would actually be in New Mexico lobbying for your support instead of taping a comedy show in New York. No, the Governor is sending a clear message that this session is not a priority for him.

Worse, I’m afraid that if you do not hold your ground, you will be the laughingstock of state legislatures throughout the nation. Think about it. Governor Richardson will tell confidants, “I’ve got the legislature on such a tight leash that when I whisper ‘jump’ from New York, they ask “how high?”

Governor Bill Richardson is termed out of office and has already begun looking for greener pastures. On the other hand, you, my dear Senators, could be setting a precedent here that will minimize your effectiveness and transform you to nothing more than a rubber stamping body for years to come.

I hope you will continue doing the right thing and adjourned as soon as you are convened.


Mario Burgos

Oops, I Missed the Session

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

We knew this was going to happen. After getting re-elected, Governor Richardson’s primary focus was going to be to run for President.

What we could not have foreseen is that he would be willing to miss most of the 60-day legislative session because he was gallivanting around the nation, and then have the audacity to come back to New Mexico and demand the legislature go into special session. Is anyone surprised that our legislators might resent this (subscription)?

You do know that these special sessions cost $42,000 a day of our money, right?