Inside the Capitol

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Gov, riding high

50213 Susana

SANTA FE -- Susana Martinez appears to have gotten just about everything she wanted for her finance program from the 2013 Legislature.
An economic development proposal for corporate tax cuts and tax breaks was in trouble in both houses until she threatened to veto the Legislature's appropriation bill.
Suddenly the previously uncompromising governor became a tough compromising former district attorney.
She tossed lawmakers the "Breaking Bad" tax break for the filming of television series plus an agreement to sign the appropriation bill.
What happened in that negotiating session? We don't know but in the waning moments of the legislative session, the governor's 35-page tax cut bill was trotted out on the floor of each house with little debate and no time to read the proposal.
Democratic leaders House Speaker Kenny Martinez and Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez were roundly criticized by many Democratic legislators for caving in to the governor.
It is hard to figure. Did they not want a special session? Were there personal reasons? Did they not want the governor and her PAC going after them in their next election?
One thing seems certain. Unless there are some real surprises in her bill, Gov. Martinez and her 60 percent approval ratings seem headed toward very likely reelection in 2014.
Democrats will have to content themselves with trying to pick off GOP Secretary of State Dianna Duran and increasing their majority in the House of Representatives. Senators don't run until 2016.
The governor's tax bill has been analyzed as to the numbers and how they may affect the budget. B but what people want to know is who is going to really benefit from it? Who were the people who were influential in writing the bill? Will some parts of the new act have to be redone?
The 2013 Legislature produced some very surprising alliances. In a recent column, I mentioned some unexpected relationships produced by treatment at the University of New Mexico Cancer Institute. There must have been others, including childhood friendships, college friendships and family relationships.
Senate leader Michael Sanchez is the person Democrats wonder about. He has been in the position quite awhile so he can't claim, like House Speaker Kenny Martinez, that he still is getting a feel for the job.
Sanchez weathered the full force of the governor's PAC in last year's election. She managed to pick off Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings but Sanchez won handily.
Sanchez gained the right to wield considerable power in pushing through the Democratic agenda but he backed off on much of it. He has the power to decide when and if bills are heard. Either he chose not to use that power or he didn't buy into the agenda Democrats had set at the beginning of the session.
Sanchez introduced a constitutional amendment to allow money from the state's land grant permanent fund to strengthen pre-school education. But he never scheduled a committee hearing on it.
He left discussion of the gun show loophole until minutes before the final day's session ended. That meant sure death because it was being filibustered as the session ended.
Many Democrats feel he could have done much more to promote the Democrat caucus selection of Sen. Pete Campos for Senate president pro tem. Instead he allowed a conservative coalition to form and thrive during the session.
Meanwhile Gov. Martinez continues to thrive. Her selection by President Obama as one of four government officials to attend the new pope's first mass soared her popularity even further.
That should increase her celebrity status. Nov, if she would just use some of that status to attract businesses to New Mexico as former Gov. Bill Richardson did.


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