Bill looks to implement transparency in governor's use of discretionary funds
February 02, 2018 05:25 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Every year New Mexico's governor receives $80,000 in tax dollars to dole out however he or she chooses to – no questions asked, no strings attached – on things like dinners and receptions.
That fund, however, came under fire after Gov. Susana Martinez's infamous 2015 pizza party at the Eldorado Hotel in Santa Fe. Police were called to the room early in the morning after noise complaints, and Martinez told dispatch to call off officers.
Now State Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque, wants to make sure the public knows exactly how governors spend those discretionary dollars in the future, via Senate Bill 52. The legislation has been garnering bipartisan support at the Roundhouse this legislative session.
"I don't think any branch of government should be exempt from transparency when it comes to taxpayer dollars," Rue said.
The bill requires the governor to submit monthly spending reports and an annual audit of the fund to be made. It also stipulates that the money can't be used as a supplement to the governor's salary, and calls for unspent money to return to the General Fund.
"We are not being so prescriptive as to tell a governor how to spend it," Rue said. "That's important to note. This is just saying to show us, tell us how you did spend it. So we can look at it (and) review it."
A similar bill passed the Senate in 2017, but fizzled out in the House. If SB52 passes this time around, it would go into effect next January – just in time for the state's next governor to take office.
Updated: February 02, 2018 05:25 PM
Created: February 02, 2018 05:06 PM
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