New Mexico lawmakers call for extraordinary session to override governor’s veto

SANTA FE, N.M. – There are calls from both Republicans and Democrats to return to the Roundhouse in Santa Fe for an extraordinary session after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham vetoed Senate Bill 48, a spending bill for millions of dollars in various projects around the state.

"My heart sank,” said State Rep. Roger Montoya, (D-District 48.) “I was deeply disappointed in the implications for grassroots organizations, non-profits, colleges, it will be very, very difficult for us."

SB 48 is also known as the Junior Bill. It included $50 million to fund lawmakers’ pet projects across the state.

Montoya says the governor’s veto will have a negative impact on his district in northern New Mexico and rural communities he represents.

"We deployed those funds from our heart with a deep understanding of what matters,” he said. “The funding that will no longer be available is deeply troubling to me as an activist and a legislator in District 40."

Senate Republican Leader Greg Baca (R-District 29) is also calling for an extraordinary session to override the governor’s veto, saying in a statement:

“The veto of this legislation is a shameless attempt to beat the legislative branch into submission and again eat away at our appropriating authority. The Junior Bill contained funding for law enforcement, senior centers, the courts, and other critical needs throughout the state. I call on my colleagues in the Senate and House to convene the Legislature in extraordinary session for the purpose of overriding this unconscionable and irresponsible veto.”

In her veto message, the governor explained her decision writing:

“Unfortunately, I am unconvinced that SB 48’s distribution of over $50 million in funds for various projects upholds principles of fiscal responsibility or, on the whole, represents a wise investment at present. For example, many of the projects listed in SB 48 are not fully funded—leaving open the possibility that money will be wasted on projects that will never be completed. This is unacceptable. While I’m sure my veto today is disappointing to many, it is my sincere hope that it will serve as a catalyst for changing this process going forward to ensure that all such substantial expenditures are warranted and prudent.”

"I completely disagree with the notion that these projects are ill thunk through and ill-designed," said Montoya.

Democrats in the Senate will be meeting soon to decide what to do.

“There is great concern in the Senate Democratic Caucus over the complete veto of the junior bill. Senate Democrats will be meeting soon to discuss options,” said Chris Nordstrum, a spokesperson for the Senate Democrats in a statement.

House Democrats shared the following statement:

“Senate Bill 48 contained crucial funding that would benefit communities across our state. New Mexicans count on their legislators and state government to deliver results for their families, their neighborhoods, and their communities.

The projects funded by Senate Bill 48 – like transportation for veterans with disabilities, literacy programs, and meal delivery for the medically vulnerable and the homebound – are critical services for families. It will be important to explore all options to deliver the results New Mexicans are counting on.”