Governor Bill Richardson has attempted to keep the legislature from focusing on the budget – the constitutional purpose of the 30 day session – and the results are bills that propose spending with reckless abandonment. Case in point, SB 361 introduced by Senator Mary Jane Garcia (D):
MAKING AN APPROPRIATION TO THE STATE COMMISSION OF PUBLIC RECORDS FOR THE OFFICE OF THE NEW MEXICO STATE HISTORIAN’S NEW MEXICO HISTORY WEB SITE.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
Section 1. APPROPRIATION.–Five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) is appropriated from the general fund to the state commission of public records for expenditure in fiscal year 2007 for the office of the New Mexico state historian’s New Mexico history web site project to enhance the content development for the existing web site. Any unexpended or unencumbered balance remaining at the end of fiscal year 2007 shall revert to the general fund.
That’s right, half a million dollars to revise a website. Let’s put this into perspective. This blog costs me less than a $100 per year. Generally speaking, I charge a client $5,000 to $25,000 to launch a company website. The higher price is for a site with e-commerce and advanced database capabilities.
Or maybe you prefer a more apples to apples comparison. Project Gutenberg has 17,000 free books in the online book catalog and with 2 million ebooks downloaded each month, this is one busy site. According to the 2005 filing of their 990 the annual cost for staffing this huge undertaking is $142,248 of which $110,446 is for salaries and compensation. Considering that taxpayers are already paying to staff the New Mexico Office of State History, you have to wonder where is this additional $500,000 going to be spent.