Governor vetoes judicial retirement, other bills
Among the measures vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez on Friday were proposals to:
—Revise the judicial retirement system to improve its solvency. The legislation would have required state judges and magistrates to increase their payroll contributions along with government employers, and would have eliminated the use of court docket fees for financing the pension plan. The governor said the pension proposal relied too much on increased taxpayer spending.
—Revamp the 11-member governing board of the New Mexico Finance Authority, which was caught in a scandal last year over a fake financial audit. Lawmakers proposed eliminating three of the governor's cabinet secretaries as board members and having legislative leaders appoint four members. Martinez said it's critical to have state agency secretaries on the board that deal with economic development, the environment and energy.
—Make the elected State Education Commission an independent agency and stop the public education secretary from overruling the commission's decisions on whether to approve or reject public charter schools. The governor said the legislation "seriously undermines the existing separation of powers and the internal system of checks and balances" by removing the secretary from charter decisions.
—Allow former and current lawmakers to enroll in a state pension fund if they had failed to meet previous deadlines for joining the retirement system. It would have required current lawmakers to contribute $700 a year into their pension plan, an increase of $100. Lawmakers receive no salaries, and Martinez said the Legislature should allow voters to consider a constitutional question whether they should be entitled to pensions.
—Require the state to prepare a report on all tax breaks offered in New Mexico, including determining the number of jobs created by the incentives and the businesses that qualify for them. The governor said her administration already does some of the proposed reporting. She vetoed a similar proposal in 2011.
—Provide supplemental public campaign financing for some candidates for the Public Regulation Commission and state appellate courts if they raise certain amounts of private contributions. The measure was to address a court ruling against a New Mexico provision giving extra public money to candidates if their privately financed opponents outspend them. Martinez questioned whether the proposed fix was constitutional and urged lawmakers to overhaul the system in which judges run in partisan elections after their appointment.
—Make hunting and fishing licenses valid for one year from the date of issuance rather than ending March 31. Martinez said lawmakers didn't provide enough lead time for implementation and it could jeopardize some federal money for the Game and Fish Department.
—Establish an electronic tracking system to stop excessive sales of medications that can be used to manufacture methamphetamines. Martinez said the state already has a monitoring system and the legislation would have reduced the criminal charges that could be brought in some illegal drug cases.
—Provide for community-based teams to provide assistance to people with serious mental illness. The governor said the legislation was well intentioned but would have assigned oversight to the wrong state agency. She directed the Human Services Department to develop guidelines for establishing the teams.
—Require potential state and local contractors to disclose their campaign contributions. Martinez said the measure would have diluted some existing disclosure requirements.
—Ensure community colleges receive state aid for physical education courses taken by students who audit the classes rather than taking them for credit. Santa Fe Community College had to increase some student fees because it no longer received state higher education money for physical education courses taken by retirees and other audit students.
—Create a new class of businesses called benefit corporations, which make environmental and social improvements a part of their mission as well as generating profits.