State budget battle turning ugly

Created: 02/10/2014 6:31 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

At the State Capitol, the Battle of the Budget turns ugly, with one lawmaker complaining of threats and intimidation after she bolted party lines to vote with the other side.

Is it just hardball politics - or a beanball to the noggin - a case of schoolyard bullying on the political playground where all the players are at least theoretically grown up? It all started with a dramatic tie vote in the House of Representatives Friday afternoon.

The vote was 34 to 34, which means a Democrat-backed budget bill did not pass. Maverick Democrat Sandra Jeff of Crownpoint voted 'no' with 33 Republicans. Now she says she's paying a price.

"I've been intimidated, I've been harassed, " said Rep. Jeff in an interview on the House floor. "I've been bullied and I've also been threatened by my own colleagues on the House side - my own Democrats - because I stood up for what I believe in for my constituents - and I'm still a Democrat!"

"I'm not aware of any threats or intimidation," said Rep. Ken Martinez, the Democratic Speaker of the House. "Of course we're at that point where we're working very hard, we're very tired. People take tough votes and there may be some grousing back home and of course that happens. That goes along with the job."

Rep. Jeff said her fellow Democrats are threatening to support her opponent in the June party primary election, and threatening to cut capital outlay funding for projects in her district.

Democratic leaders say they expect to re-vote on the budget bill - with or without some compromise changes - later this week. The session ends next Thursday at noon.

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