SANTA FE, N.M. A nearly $86 million package of capital improvements, including upgrades at state prisons, was signed into law Tuesday by New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.
Despite agreeing to the measure, the Republican governor expressed disappointment the Democratic-controlled Legislature didnt approve more construction projects to help stimulate the economy. Martinez had proposed spending nearly $213 million on capital improvements, including more than $40 million on road maintenance.
Legislators had the opportunity to support projects that would lead to New Mexico businesses hiring New Mexico workers right away, and instead they signaled to struggling contractors and unemployed workers that they simply need to wait, Martinez said.
The capital outlay bill was approved by the Legislature during a special session that ended last month. Democratic leaders in the Senate said during debate on the proposal that a smaller capital financing package was prudent because of uncertainty about state revenues.
Sen. John Arthur Smith, a Deming Democrat and chairman of the Legislative Finance Committee, said Tuesday theres a risk that state money will have to be diverted to help retire outstanding bonds for road projects if New Mexicos share of federal highway aid is reduced in the future.
New revenue forecasts will be issued before the Legislature meets in January, and lawmakers have the option of approving capital projects during next years 30-day session.
Bonds, which are backed by money from severance taxes on oil and natural-gas production, finance most of the capital projects in the bill signed by Martinez.
About $4 million from the states main budget account is being used to buy cars for the state police and motor transportation police in the Department of Public Safety.
The governor said she signed the Legislatures proposal because it included important projects and reflects my commitment to ensuring that capital outlay funds are used to support projects of regional and statewide importance.
Traditionally, the Legislature has allocated a portion of capital financing to pet projects in the home districts of individual legislators but that didnt happen during the special session.