SANTA FE – Criminal justice initiatives and state spending increases for public education, law enforcement, Medicaid and economic development are at the top of the agenda as lawmakers gather Tuesday for a 30-day legislative session.
The session is scheduled to start at noon with the final State of the State address by second-term Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, now in her last year in office.
State tax income is on the rise as lawmakers have started crafting a spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Pay increases have been endorsed by leading legislators and Martinez for teachers and state workers – with an added emphasis on pay for judges, prosecutors and corrections officers.
New Mexico government income for the coming fiscal year is expected to surpass annual spending obligations by nearly $200 million. The governor wants to raise an additional $99 million through tax and health care reforms.
Martinez and the Legislature have placed a high priority on increasing spending for early childhood education including pre-kindergarten, along with home-visiting programs that safeguard and improve the health of newborns and toddlers.
The governor is likely to clash with the Democrat-led Legislature on how to address acute concerns about public safety – especially property crimes and violence in Albuquerque.
Martinez says she’ll back legislation that would reinstate the death penalty, expand three-strikes laws for violent felonies and grant police broader immunity from prosecution.
Leading Democratic lawmakers are highlighting efforts to better address community policing efforts at local law enforcement agencies and pay for a data-driven project that helps prosecutors target cases that reduce crime.