House speaker: Fixing Albuquerque's crime crisis benefits state
January 15, 2018 10:20 PM
SANTA FE, N.M. -- Call it the calm before the storm.
On Tuesday, the halls of the Roundhouse will be filled with people from all walks of life interested in making some change in New Mexico. Lawmakers will gather for the first day of the 30-day legislative session.
KOB spoke to a key leader who has a lot of power in what exactly that change looks like. This will be Brian Egolf's second legislative session as the speaker of the house, the top post on this side of the building.
First, he addressed the crime epidemic in Albuquerque.
KOB: "If there is ever a year where crime takes center stage and finding crime solutions, it feels like it is this year, largely in part because of the situation in and around Albuquerque. Do you think rural area legislators are on board with the crime initiatives that metro area legislators are pushing and advocating?"
Egolf: "I do. We have been saying for quite a while that the situation in Albuquerque regarding crime is at a crisis level. That starts to affect economic development in Albuquerque and job creation. When Albuquerque isn't doing well, it really does have an effect holding back the rest of the state. When Albuquerque is doing well, it helps all of us go forward together. By addressing the crime problem in Albuquerque, the whole state gets a benefit."
KOB: "Last week, we spoke with Gov. Susana Martinez. She had somewhat of an 'I told you so' attitude in the sense that for seven years, the governor has been trying to push her crime agenda and it wasn't received in the legislature. And now here we are in this situation. Do you buy that?"
Egolf: "Nope. You can put all the statutes on the books that you want. If you don't have cops on the streets making arrests, if you don't have cops taking the cases to trial, if you don't have public defenders defending the constitutional rights of the accused and if you don't have judges hearing the cases, then you are not going to see a reduction in crime."
That led to the state's budget. For the first time in quite a while, the state budget is projected to be a surplus. Egolf said wants to add funding for prosecutors, public defenders and courts to improve the wheels of justice in the state.
KOB: "We know politically and philosophically you disagree with the governor. Is there more of an appetite this year to work with her and work with her office more this year than in years past."
Egolf: "When you look at the budget, there shows a lot of agreement. We are seeing the need to invest in teachers and public schools. The governor recognizes that and it is included in her budget as it is in ours. We saw the need to invest in our public workforce and she saw that need and we both have investments there."
Martinez is again adding reinstating the death penalty to her public safety agenda. She believes it should be a penalty for people convicted of killing children or police officers. Egolf said there isn't an appetite for that idea in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.
Updated: January 15, 2018 10:20 PM
Created: January 15, 2018 07:57 PM
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