New Mexico governor seeks more funds for her office

January 15, 2019

Nestled in Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s proposed budget is a 38 percent increase in funding for her own office.

The request would boost spending on the Governor’s Office by $1.2 million, from nearly $3.3 million to about $4.5 million.

While the Legislative Finance Committee did not include any additional funds in the proposed budget it unveiled on Monday, the new Democratic governor is bound to get at least some of the extra money.

But a 38 percent increase will likely meet with pushback from some legislators.

A spokeswoman for the governor said the money would be used for “an expansion of positions in the Governor’s Office.”

The office was budgeted in the past year for 27 full-time positions. The office aims to add five positions.

But Lujan Grisham told reporters on New Year’s Eve, when announcing that her office would have both a chief of staff and chief operating officer in top executive roles, that she was not adding positions.

“We are not adding additional dollars, we are not adding additional positions. We are leveraging positions in the budget in the office of governor to make sure we meet the demands of every single New Mexican in a productive and efficient way,” she said.

Deputy press secretary Nora Sackett said Monday: “When the governor was speaking extemporaneously at the press conference on [Dec.] 31st, she was referring specifically to [the chief operating officer’s] position.

“The governor wants a state government that’s responsible to the people of New Mexico, and to implement her aggressive agenda she feels that more positions are needed,” Sackett said.

The request would bring the governor’s budget back towards prerecession levels.

In the fiscal year that ended in mid-2007, for example, Gov. Bill Richardson’s office requested nearly $4.6 million (nearly $5.9 million in today’s dollars, when adjusted for inflation).

But the economic downturn led to cuts in the Governor’s Office and around state government.