What did Gov. Lujan Grisham veto from the legislative session?
SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed hundreds of bills into law over the past few weeks, but she did not like everything that lawmakers approved.
OMNIBUS TAX REFORM PACKAGE
Despite lawmakers spending hours finding a last-minute compromise to the tax reform package, the governor gutted most of their proposed changes.
One of the most notable items taken out of the bill was a 20% increase on alcohol taxes. It would’ve equaled out to just a few cents per drink, and supporters argued it could have lowered excessive drinking rates in the state.
Lujan Grisham said the way the bill was written forced her to take it out. She said the numbers just weren’t right and insisted more work needs to be done.
“For me, for New Mexicans, outside of the tax issue, we need to do more about alcoholism and treatment and DWI and public safety, and I don’t need that, per se, to do more,” Lujan Grisham said. “We did get funding to do that in health and in Medicaid and in other places, but we’re going to have to do more here, and we will.”
The governor also vetoed proposed changes to income tax brackets, additional gross receipts tax reductions and several green energy-related tax credits, including one for electric vehicles.
The $500 and $1,000 rebate checks for taxpayers are still in the bill.
CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION
The governor also vetoed an attempt from state lawmakers to address problems surrounding CYFD.
The goal was to establish a civil rights division inside the attorney general’s office. While the proposal was not directly aimed at CYFD, lawmakers and Attorney General Raúl Torrez argued the new office would provide much needed oversight for the troubled department.
Torrez told KOB 4 Friday he is disappointed with the governor’s decision.
In a statement, he said the bill would have given his office powerful new tools to protect the civil rights of every New Mexican and the explicit authority to advocate for vulnerable children who continue to be harmed by government neglect and incompetence.
Lujan Grisham also shot down two proposals to prevent drug addicts from being sent back to prison if they relapse.
One of those would’ve reworked the entire probation and parole system – something the governor says most district attorneys did not support.
Education was a big theme at the Roundhouse this year, but the governor didn’t support plans to rework high school graduation requirements. She voted that bill with strong bipartisan support.
The proposal would’ve lowered the total credits needed to graduate from 24 to 22. It also got rid of the Algebra 2 requirement.
Lujan Grisham said she was most concerned about removing workplace readiness, dual credit and physical education requirements – and believes there are other ways to improve education in the state.
Local teacher union leaders are not on the same page.
“I think we’re approaching this in two really different perspectives,” said Whitney Holland, president of American Federation of Teachers New Mexico. “Our approach to this was the removal of Algebra 2, that was what made this bill so enticing, and I think for families we heard and from educators, practitioners, that has been a barrier to high school graduation. So I think that was overlooked a little bit in the message.”
The governor also vetoed a new Smokey Bear license plate. In her veto message, she said she’s not against the iconic character or how the license plate would raise money for wildfire prevention efforts.
However, it was an amendment requiring specialty plates come with a blank space for authorized decal logos that killed the bill.
State lawmakers can always bring these bills back for the next session, but it’s worth noting the governor gets to decide which proposals are debated next year.