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Vindictive Veto Causes School Disaster

Back in March a lot of legislators on both sides of the aisle were crying foul over the Governor’s choice of line item vetoes during The Year of the Child. Jump ahead to the present, and it becomes clear that the Governor’s punishing vetoes were not just ruthless – they were fiscally irresponsible:

Two years ago a similar flood in the [Sandia High School] gym, caused by the school’s reoccurring drainage problems, required an entirely new floor, at a cost of $200,000.

Ok, so $200,000 in taxpayer money goes to fix the floor, but the recurring drainage problem remains. Didn’t anyone think it would be wise to fix the drainage problem, so the high school gym floor wouldn’t be lost again? Apparently, Republican legislators representing the area served by the school thought that would be a good move. Unfortunately, Governor Richardson is not particularly fond of capital outlay for New Mexico children (subscription) living in Republican districts:

But some local Republican legislators are charging that Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson is responsible for the fiasco, because for purely political reasons he line-item vetoed money in the recent state school capital outlay budget to fix the drainage problem at Sandia.

That has Richardson’s press secretary Pahl Shipley crying foul for lots of reasons, mainly because the flooded gym was being politicized by legislators who had put the Sandia drainage fix in this year’s budget, even though it had not been prioritized in either the state Public School Capital Outlay review process or APS’.

Read that last sentence carefully. It seems to me that based on the results, the Republican legislators did the exact opposite of what Pahl Shipley is claiming. They took politics out of the process and listened to the needs of their constituents. The Republican legislators didn’t worry about the hidden political agenda which drives the state’s or APS’ capital outlay process.

Instead, they used good old fashioned common sense to respond to the needs of a school in their district. In case you think this is much ado about nothing, take a moment to think about the type of funding requests that the Governor DID NOT choose to veto:

State Education Secretary Veronica Garcia has taken over financial operations for West Las Vegas Public Schools, citing the school board’s inability to manage finances.

“Very serious concerns have arisen and continue to be raised regarding the fiscal management and accountability of the West Las Vegas Schools,” Garcia said in a news release.

Garcia’s office has been investigating allegations that the district misappropriated $71,250 in state funds that were meant for a bilingual education program. That includes a nearly $10,000 spent by former bilingual education coordinator Roberta Vigil [wife of Rep. Richard Vigil, D-Ribera and sister-in-law to indicted State Treasurer Robert Vigil] on a party in April that included a catered meal and a Spanish-music band.

Nice, huh? I hope the children, parents and educators at Sandia High School get in line behind the folks from Hatch and Soccoro to talk to the Governor about his priorities.