DA's funding request becomes political struggle
February 06, 2018 10:15 PM
SANTA FE, N.M. -- In the midst of Albuquerque's crime epidemic, the Bernalillo County district attorney's request for more money has turned into a real battle.
With a $300 million budget surplus, the state has money to help fix the problem. However, the House version of the budget seems to prioritize other things.
District Attorney Raul Torrez made the case that in order to adequately prosecute crimes, he needs $6 million more in his budget. In the House's budget plan, Torrez would only get a $1.2 million increase.
"I've done my very best to communicate with members of the legislature, members of the public and try to let everyone understand how big the problem is and what resources we need to get this job done."
Albuquerque leads the nation in increases in murder and auto theft. New Mexico's biggest city has big problems, which prompted Torrez to ask for more funds. Gov. Susana Martinez agreed with his request for $6 million.
But since the House passed a state budget that shortchanged Torrez, his only hope now is to take his fight to the Senate Finance Committee.
"I think there is a sense that more needs to be done," he said.
How do the lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee feel about it?
"We intend to look at every request including his and do everything we can with the balances we have," said Sen. Nancy Rodriquez, D-Santa Fe.
"We're going to look to see if there is a possibility to increase that," added Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa. "I think we all recognize that crime is extraordinary in the Second Judicial District."
"I don't know if we can get to the $6 million because where do we take it from right?" asked Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup. "We can probably do some additional money."
Updated: February 06, 2018 10:15 PM
Created: February 06, 2018 05:45 PM
Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved