Martinez hopes 2018 'will be a win for New Mexicans'
January 16, 2018 10:38 PM
SANTA FE, N.M. -- Ahead of the 30-day legislative session, KOB sat down for an interview with Gov. Susana Martinez to discuss the state's budget surplus and the crime problem.
KOB: "We are in a much better situation than we were last year, not facing as big of a crisis."
Martinez: "If you look back we had a special session, a session, and then a special session, and every single time, they said the only way we would have a balanced budget and solve the problems of state government would be to raise taxes. I refused to do so and look where we are now.
"Plus, we're going to have a 10 percent plus in reserves. That hasn't happened when a governor has her last session and I’m real proud of that."
KOB: "A lot of the monetary situation -- thank goodness that oil and gas are doing better -- but that's always been a contentious point for some people. What happens if it slumps again then we're back where we were last year? What new ideas for that economic diversity and development are you hoping to propose this session?"
Martinez: "Forty percent of our GDP growth this, in the last two quarters, nearly 40 percent has been from oil and gas. The rest has been the diversification of our economy, and so it's working. You can see where we have another segment of our economy. That is going to help out with the national labs and our military bases.
"Right now New Mexico is No. 7 in the country in GDP growth and only 40 percent of that the oil and gas industry is responsible for.
"Our Local Economic Development Act, I’m proposing it be funded and I’m also asking for the JTIP program, Job Training Incentive Program, be funded as well because those are the tools that have allowed us to bring companies like Facebook, Safelite, as well as others."
KOB: "Last year, we had to have some tough conversations about how the money situation would affect our teachers and our state employees. It seems like you have been able to do a 180."
Martinez: "This year, we do have a proposal that will allow all teachers to receive a pay raise and also for our exemplary teachers to receive a $5,000 bump for the year. They are exemplary teachers, and if they are science or math teachers … to receive another $5,000 bump in their pay so they can be honored for the amazing work they're doing for our kids, implementing the reforms, making sure they're at grade level and ready for the next grade level."
KOB: "How has that evolution of your ideas come along in these eight years?"
Martinez: "The evolution of my ideas is data-driven. They're data-driven because it's the evidence that shows this is working, maybe in another state, maybe there's a study that shows proposals are supported by the data and then we move forward.
"There was a lot of struggle at first in the reforms in education. ... Farmington and Albuquerque were at similar rates in reading and in math. The ones that embraced our reforms was Farmington, and they are surpassing Albuquerque Public Schools in reading and math because they're seeing the data is actually moving them forward."
KOB: "You are asking for a lot of crime bills. We have seen these bills go into session before with a lot of Republican support, and they don't get anywhere. How much more hopeful are you and Republicans who support these bills are going to have more luck this time around in this session?"
Martinez: "Albuquerque, the metro area, has been ranked No. 1 in the country for auto thefts and other types of crime. That is a list we do not want to be on, so it is important to me that we make sure those kinds of numbers are decreased so that people who want to bring a business here or grow their business can do it safely.
"I also feel that there is an appetite for some bills to be passed that were not passed in the past, they will be passed this time and arrive on my desk and allow me to pass those bills. ... They are tired of having this revolving door of the judicial system where they get arrested, they go into the jail, they're there a couple hours and they're back out on the street."
KOB: "A lot of the talk this year has been about crime especially in the metro. Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez had requested $6.5 million additional to help with what we're facing there."
Martinez: "My proposal is for a $6.5 million increase because he is the one that is actually experiencing a problem bigger than other DAs, but I’ve also proposed increases in the judiciary as well as the public defender’s office and all the district attorney's offices and law enforcement.
"It's happening in Las Cruces, it's happening in Farmington, it's happening down in Alamogordo, so it's in every part of the state. ... It's not just happening in the metro area. The way we are getting the buy-in is this is happening all over the state, and it's going to get worse. It does not get better.
"We've met with Republicans and Democrats. We have bills being sponsored by Republicans and Democrats, including crime bills."
KOB: "Last year I came and met with you. I also met with Senator Wirth and Representative Egolf, and I got the same message. I left this Roundhouse so hopeful we're going to work together, we're going to compromise, and we're going to reach across the aisles. We had a tough session last year. We had some of your vetoes end up in a court battle. What are you going to say to New Mexicans if at the end of the session if we don't see that embrace, we don't see that working together again?"
Martinez: "The people should see there is optimism for it to succeed because I’ve kept my word. No. 1, I said I was never going to raise taxes and I haven't, and they have sent me at least 20 plus bills to raise taxes and look at the situation we are in now. We are able to build on our reforms in education, build on the tools for us to grow our economy, and build on that which we need to make sure people are safe in their homes and at work and at school. So all of the positive things that have resulted from that, yes, it was tough last year.
"I’m hopeful that this year will be a win for New Mexicans, not for those elected, but for New Mexicans."
Updated: January 16, 2018 10:38 PM
Created: January 16, 2018 03:26 PM
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