KUNM

Capital Outlay Reform Gains Momentum

Feb 4, 2016

Many people complain that big public works projects aren’t getting done in New Mexico because the system we use to fund them is dominated by politics. But that could change as two proposed reforms of the capital outlay system gain momentum this legislative session.

One, promoted by Think New Mexico (HB 307), would take the planning power from politicians and give it to an appointed commission. Another (SB 48), sponsored by Albuquerque Republican Senator Sander Rue, would make public how much lawmakers are spending on specific projects in their districts.

The ideas have the backing of the governor, good government groups and business groups all over the state. But time is short.

Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, says if we don’t fix the system now, New Mexicans will notice crumbling infrastructure such as, "dilapidated drinking water systems, solid waste systems, roads and [other] infrastructure that communities depend on."

There are no groups officially opposing the reforms, but some lawmakers say they worry about political fallout; they also worry change could hurt rural areas.