December 8, 2015

Oil slump further cuts state revenue forecast -- Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico lawmakers could have less money available to spend next year than previously projected, as plummeting oil prices have led to the amount of “new” money estimated for the coming year to be pared back to $232 million – down more than $60 million from four months ago.

Finance and Administration Secretary Tom Clifford also spoke against across-the-board pay raises for state workers, indicating the Martinez administration will instead push for targeted salary increases for certain job positions that have been difficult to fill and keep filled, such as social workers, State Police officers, corrections officers and computer specialists.

The new revenue estimates were unveiled Monday at a Legislative Finance Committee hearing at the state Capitol. The estimates, which are compiled by a team of executive and legislative branch economists, are key in lawmakers’ annual task of approving a balanced budget.

Both the Legislature and the Martinez administration will roll out spending plans in advance of next year’s 30-day legislative session, which begins Jan. 19.-- revised 12/8/2015


Governor orders crackdown on drunken driving -- Albuquerque Journal

State Police will flood New Mexico’s deadliest highways in coming months to catch drunken drivers and will work with other officers to round up DWI offenders who fail to show up in court or violate their conditions of release.

Gov. Susana Martinez also plans a new tack – hiring people willing to sit in courtrooms to watch how New Mexico judges handle drunken drivers. The “court monitors” will issue public reports on sentencing, plea agreements and other matters.

State Police also will track down which bars and restaurants, if any, served people caught driving drunk, she said.

The efforts are part of a series of initiatives Martinez announced Monday to combat DWI deaths – something the state secretary of public safety described as a “bloodstain” on New Mexico’s reputation. -- 12/7/2015


State again seeks to tie food stamps to work -- Santa Fe New Mexican

The New Mexico Human Services Department is again seeking to change state rules that tie food stamp benefits to work requirements.

Elements of the department’s latest proposal are less strict than previous plans. Yet community groups that have long opposed changes still argue the proposed rules would cause the administration of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to deny more New Mexicans on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in a state that suffers from some of the highest poverty rates in the nation. -- 12/7/2015