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The Latest: Republican lawmakers worried about spending plan

January 16, 2019
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New Mexico House Minority Leader Rep. James Townsend, R-Artesia, prepares for the start of the New Mexico Legislative session on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019, in Santa Fe, N.M. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)
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New Mexico House Minority Leader Rep. James Townsend, R-Artesia, prepares for the start of the New Mexico Legislative session on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019, in Santa Fe, N.M. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s first State of the State address (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

New Mexico House Minority Leader James Townsend says he’s “scared to death” of the spending proposals pushed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The Republican lawmaker said Tuesday that the massive spending plans around education and film production will prevent the state from putting aside needed money and could have long-term effects.

Townsend says if the proposals are adopted and the state takes money from its permanent land fund, borrowing costs will skyrocket.

House Minority Whip Rod Montoya says the governor wants lawmakers to agree to spending plans that have re-occurring costs and yet the budget surplus won’t be there every year.

Republicans also oppose Lujan Grisham’s plan to raise the minimum wage from $7.50 to $12 an hour, saying such a large increase will hurt small businesses and result in layoffs.


4:15 p.m.

Rep. Alonzo Baldonado says fellow Republicans are taking a wait-and-see approach to the education proposals outlined by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Baldonado said Tuesday he and many other Republicans support strengthening the state’s struggling education system but they want to know how Lujan Grisham intends to pay for proposed teacher raises and other increased spending.

The Los Lunas Republican also says his colleagues are concerned about the governor’s call for gun control and her support of proposed legislation that would end a decades-old ban on abortion that preceded the federal Roe vs. Wade case.

Baldonado says Republicans want to see more details in the various proposals and intend to ask hard questions during committee meetings.


2:45 p.m.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says she will join a coalition of governors from across the U.S. who have committed to upholding the goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

In her first State of the State address, the Democrat said she will soon be signing an executive order committing the state to the emission reduction goals spelled out in the international agreement.

Part of the effort includes state agencies developing a comprehensive climate plan for New Mexico to address carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollution.

Another push by her administration will include increasing New Mexico’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2040.

That would place New Mexico on a similar trajectory to California and New York, which are planning for 50 percent by 2030. Hawaii aims to shift to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.


2:38 p.m.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says lifting the state’s cap on incentives for the film industry could result in more productions in other parts of the state.

In her State of the State address, the Democrat pointed to the flurry of activity in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe areas. She says rural areas and Native American communities also stand to benefit.

Lujan Grisham said film and television productions promote the state’s great outdoors to a global audience and give New Mexicans another career option.

She vowed that New Mexico will by the end of the year pay the backlog of incentives that have been promised to the industry.

Repeating a phrase used often by former Gov. Susana Martinez, Lujan Grisham in her address said New Mexico is open for business and encouraged the industry to bring its cameras.


2:35 p.m.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is pushing for a higher minimum wage.

The Democrat said Tuesday during her State of the State address that more than 110,000 New Mexicans make $7.50 an hour. She called that a “poverty wage.”

She proposed raising the wage to $10 an hour now and then moving to $12 and establishing an index to inflation.

For state workers, she’s calling for tiered raises, so those who currently earn the least will see 4 percent raises. The minimum wage for state employees would rise to $12 an hour beginning July 1 under her plan.

Like her predecessor, Lujan Grisham voiced support for the state’s Local Economic Development Act as a way to invest in entrepreneurs and businesses. She wants to double the funding.


2:30 p.m.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has plans for the state’s child welfare agency.

In her State of the State address, she said she wants to address vacancies within the Children, Youth and Families Department and create 100 new positions in the agency’s Protective Services Division.

Lujan Grisham also told lawmakers that she will be reinvigorating the state Children’s Cabinet to work with key departments to ensure needs are being met.

A child-advocacy group reported Tuesday that New Mexico’s child poverty rate has decreased but that the state still rates 48th in the nation overall when compared with other states.

New Mexico Voices for Children released the 2018 New Mexico Kids Count Data Book as the Legislature convened for a 60-day session.


2:28 p.m.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is calling for her office and the Legislature to explore ways to reduce the costs of health care and increase patient access.

The Democrat said in her State of the State address that behavioral health care will be among the priorities, as she believes government has a duty to provide for those with mental illnesses and those dealing with substance abuse.

She says she’s directing the state Health Department to work with the superintendent of insurance to reduce reporting requirements and burdens on health care providers with the goal of reducing bureaucracy and increasing delivery of health care.

Lujan Grisham also vowed to sign legislation, if passed, that would end a decades-old ban on abortion that preceded the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that made the procedure legal nationwide.


2:25 p.m.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says she will direct health officials in her administration to begin making opioid addiction a qualifying condition for patients seeking to use medical marijuana.

The Democratic governor’s pledge Tuesday came during her first State of State address, which kicks off the Legislature’s 60-day session in Santa Fe.

She says the directive follows a longstanding recommendation from the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, and will come in addition to other state initiatives to address the state’s opioid crisis.

She says the other plans include boosting opioid prevention programs and the availability of overdose-reversal drugs like Narcan.

She said cracking down on prescribers and pharmaceutical companies that avert the law would help address the distribution of opioids in New Mexico, in addition to a compassionate approach to addressing addiction.


2:20 p.m.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is calling on the Legislature to address gun violence in New Mexico with bills that she says will strengthen background checks for firearms purchases and ban people with assault convictions from owning a gun.

She told lawmakers in her first State of the State address that she expects to sign the bills into law during the legislative session that started Tuesday. Her comments come as FBI crime data in recent years has consistently shown New Mexico ranking among the most dangerous states.

Other measures she supports include a proposal that aims to ensure gun owners safeguard guns in their homes and out of the reach of children.

In the long-term, her administration’s health department plans to conduct a study on gun violence.


2:10 p.m.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants to put New Mexico on a path to universal pre-kindergarten for all children.

In her first State of the State address, the Democrat pointed to research that has shown children who come from poor and disadvantaged families have the most to gain from preschool.

The goal would be to reach a statewide enrollment of 80 percent within the next five years.

Aside from funneling more money to early childhood education, the governor is calling for boosting the salaries of teachers by 6 percent and raising the minimum salaries for every level of educator by at least 10 percent.

Her plan also calls for instituting a $12 minimum wage for educational personnel. The higher wages would be aimed at recruiting and retaining teachers.

In a nod to a recent court decision, she also is pushing for more money to be earmarked for the state’s Indian Education Fund and for bilingual and multicultural education programs.


2 p.m.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is urging lawmakers to have open hearts and minds as they work across the aisle during the 60-day legislative session.

The Democrat, who took office Jan. 1, delivered her first State of the State address to a joint session Tuesday. She says she believes that by working together, a course can be set that will transform the state for generations to come.

The Democratic-controlled Legislature often clashed with former Gov. Susana Martinez during the Republican’s two terms in office.

Lujan Grisham said in her address that communication between the two branches of government will be key, that civility should color any disagreements and that victories come with humility.

She also told lawmakers to remember their constituents and that the shared goal is progress.


10 a.m.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will be giving her first State of the State address as New Mexico lawmakers convene for a 60-day legislative session.

The Legislature convenes at noon Tuesday in Santa Fe, and one of the first orders of business will be for lawmakers from both chambers to gather together for the annual address.

Lujan Grisham, who took office Jan. 1, is expected to address familiar priorities including education reform and job creation.

Lujan Grisham and the Democratic-controlled Legislature will have a $1.1 billion budget surplus to work with during the session. The governor has recommended boosting state spending for the coming fiscal year. Among other things, her proposal calls for another $500 million for public education.

The Legislature’s budget-writing committee is calling for slightly more modest spending increases.

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