Inside the Capitol

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Everything's Turning Up Roses

50813 Susana

SANTA FE -- Gov. Susana Martinez is leading a charmed life. Recently we have talked about the governor out-maneuvering Democratic Legislative leaders to get nearly everything she wanted in the state's big budget bill.
That was followed by President Obama appointing her to the four-member delegation to Rome for the new Pope's inaugural activities. Then it was her selection by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

And now we hear that our governor polled three percent in a Massachusetts presidential primary survey of possible 2016 candidates.
That's without even trying. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson travelled that state relentlessly in 2011 and didn't score any better.
And to top it off for this month, Gov. Martinez was invited by Vice President Joe Biden to his Cinco de Mayo party. The two evidently became good friends while on their trip to Rome.
Incidentally, both the governor's trip to Rome and her Cinco de Mayo invitation to Biden's Washington residence came with just a day's notice.
Gov. Martinez was invited on Wednesday to the Friday party. She departed on Thursday and returned Saturday morning.
Evidently someone got a little mixed up with the quick change in plans. The governor was shown on television Friday night speaking to a New Mexico group on Friday afternoon when she was in Washington.
With better than a 60 percent popularity rating within the state Susana Martinez definitely is leading a charmed life. Will that bubble ever burst?
It could. Her lack of enthusiasm for the spaceport and film incentives hurt business for both.
It would be a huge feather in her cap if Virgin Galactic could pull off its first passenger trip to the edge of space before the 2014 elections.
Very recently Spaceship Two made its first powered trip. It achieved a height of 55 miles. The goal is to take it to 62 miles above the earth by the end of the year.
That is sure to require more testing, both in California and New Mexico. Then there are the licensing permits that will be required.
Considering the slow pace at which development of the SS2 has proceeded thus far, it may take more than a year and a half to start flying passengers. So the governor may not get her wish.
But it was encouraging to see Virgin Galactic announce that the SS2 will be flying out of Spaceport America. Executive Director Christine Anderson says whenever the SS2 is ready, we are ready.
When is that big hotel to be built? That is Virgin Galactic's responsibility but I haven't heard them say anything about it lately.
Gov. Martinez is sure to take credit for Virgin Galactic's accomplishments. About the only thing she has done is to help push a bill through the 2013 Legislature to limit liability for space suppliers. Meanwhile Space X and Orbital Sciences already have sent cargo ships to the International Space Station. Neither one of them blasted off from Spaceport America. We no longer have the lead in space.
Attracting movies and television productions to New Mexico for filming is the other area where Martinez has had some problems.
A partially successful effort to cut back on incentives got Gov. Martinez in hot water in Hollywood.
While we were putting limits on how much the state will pay out for incentives, other states were increasing their incentives and leaving us in their dust.
But tweaking the incentive program from 25 percent to 30 percent for shooting TV series and big pictures that use local sound stages has caused a flurry of new productions according to the state film office.
It isn't back to where it once was but with the good luck Gov. Martinez has been having lately don't bet against her. Oh, and an anonymous donor paid for that $2,800 coffee maker, so it no longer comes out of state money.


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