State Starts New Fiscal Year With Lagging Revenues, 900 Jobs Slated For Rio Rancho

Jun 30, 2016

New Mexico Budget Crunch Ripples Through Hospitals, Museums Associated Press

New Mexico state government is looking for new ways to conserve spending as it crosses the threshold into a new budget year, with the most pronounced changes set to ripple through Medicaid health care services for the poor and disabled.

State general fund revenues were lagging by nearly 10 percent as the books close Thursday on fiscal year 2016. The revenue downturn is linked to oil and natural gas prices, sales-style taxes and corporate income taxes.

New Mexico is one of just eight states coping with downturns in general fund revenue. Most of them rely on energy production.

Where some states have tapped rainy day funds or raised taxes, New Mexico has allowed its cash reserves to shrink and given state agencies new authority to transfer funds between programs.

Gov. Martinez To Announce 900 Jobs In Rio Rancho – Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is set to announce that new 900 jobs are coming to Rio Rancho amid uncertainty around Intel.

The announcement on Thursday is the largest number of jobs announced in one place during the governor's term and comes after Intel announced company-wide layoffs.

Intel has a massive plant in Rio Rancho and the plant's workforce has shrunk over the years.

Earlier this month, executives with El Segundo, California-based PCM, a direct marketing technology company, said the company would add more than 200 sales positions in Rio Rancho.

The Martinez administration has made a string of private-sector employment announcements over the past month linked to more than 1,000 anticipated new jobs, at businesses ranging from a brewery in Las Cruces to a Santa Fe computer technology firm.

Documents Released In New Mexico Basketball Coach FiringThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

State education officials have released documents related to the firing of a northern New Mexico high school basketball coach that generated upheaval.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports (http://goo.gl/198DiH) documents released by the Public Education Department offer details into the allegations of verbal abuse by former Espanola Valley High School head basketball coach Richard Martinez.

According to the documents, Martinez pushed and grabbed players, yelled at them and threw chairs and kicked bleachers. Documents say he also mocked shorter players and compared one struggling player to his father who had killed himself.

Martinez declined to comment on the documents.

He was fired in April by former Española superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez.

Backlash over Martinez's abrupt termination set off a chain reaction that led to Gutierrez's resignation hours after she fired him.

Border Agency Clears Employees In 4 Shooting IncidentsThe Associated Press

U.S. Customs and Border Protection found that employees acted properly when they fired guns in four incidents dating back to 2012 — including two that left two people dead.

The findings were released Thursday by the agency's National Use of Force Review Board, which was established in December 2014 amid widespread criticism that the nation's largest law enforcement agency was slow to investigate such incidents and lacked transparency.

The cases involve a Border Patrol agent who fired from Texas at rock-throwers in Mexico, a heavily armed murder suspect who was shot and killed as he fled a Texas house by a Border Patrol agent and other law enforcement officers, a Border Patrol agent who fired at rock-throwers in Arizona and an Office of Air and Marine crew that fired warning shots and crashed into a vessel carrying immigrants off the Southern California coast, one of whom died.

Fourth Hantavirus Death Reported In New MexicoThe Associated Press

State health officials say a 20-year-old woman from Torrance County in central New Mexico has died of hantavirus.

The Health Department said Thursday it marks the state's sixth case of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome this year. Four of the cases have been fatal.

The patient's name wasn't released.

Hantavirus is a deadly disease transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings or saliva. People can contract the disease when they breathe in aerosolized virus.

Health officials say the deer mouse is the main carrier for the strain found in New Mexico.

Public health veterinarian Paul Ettestad says deer mice can be found throughout the state so people everywhere should be taking precautions.

Symptoms include fever and muscle aches, possibly with chills, headache, nausea and abdominal pain. Symptoms can develop up to six weeks after exposure.

New Laws Take Effect At Mid-Year In New MexicoThe Associated Press

New laws going into effect July 1 in New Mexico run the gamut from new sentencing requirements for drunken drivers to stepped-up financial disclosures for lobbyists.

The state also is entering a new budget year that calls for reduced general fund spending, as revenues lag amid low energy prices.

Tougher sentencing guidelines will apply to some repeat DWI convictions and for homicide by vehicle while under the influence.

Another new law requires political lobbyists to file periodic disclosure reports on expenditures, even if it is a statement that no activity took place.

And in a nod to the growing popularity of craft beer, licensed liquor stores will be able to fill and sell carry-out jugs of beer, better known as growlers.

In New Mexico, New Deal Legacy Gets A Second Look By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

The 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service is kindling interest in the cabins, murals, furniture and artwork of the New Deal era that transformed and popularized national and state parks while putting impoverished Americans back to work.

Rupert Lopez of New Mexico gratefully worked for $1 a day amid the misery of the Great Depression making adobe-block walls for National Park Service administration building in Santa Fe.

Lopez himself is now 100 years old, and some preservationists saying it is time for the federal government to give public works projects of the New Deal era more focused attention.

At the same time, enthusiasts of New Deal history are using online crowdsourcing tools to identify overlooked buildings and artwork across the nation.

Teen Accused In New Mexico Man's Death Takes Plea DealAssociated Press

A teenager has pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and other charges stemming from an attack authorities say led to an Albuquerque man's shooting death in his driveway.

The 18-year-old was one of six charged last year in 60-year-old Steven Gerecke's death, with authorities saying the teens were breaking into homes the night of the killing.

The 18-year-old, whom the Associated Press hasn't named because of his age at the time of the crime, was initially charged with murder.

Under the plea deal Wednesday, the teen faces a potential 15-year prison term if sentenced as an adult for conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary with a deadly weapon, aggravated burglary, theft of a credit card and unauthorized use of a credit card.

A hearing will be scheduled to determine whether to sentence the teen as a juvenile or an adult.

Santa Fe Among School Districts In Civil Rights SettlementAssociated Press

Santa Fe Public Schools has avoided a civil rights investigation by pledging to improve website accessibility for people with disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Education announced the settlement Wednesday with 11 education organizations in seven states and one territory.

Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, says the Santa Fe Public Schools and others in the settlement promised to revamp websites to make them accessible to people with disabilities.

Previous investigations found that on all 11 websites important images were missing text descriptions, called "alt tags." The tags describe the images to blind and low-vision users who use special software. Probes also found that some videos were not accurately captioned.

The Nevada Department of Education and the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind were also part of the settlement.

UNM Hospital Found Liable In MRSA LawsuitAlbuquerque Journal

A jury found the University of New Mexico liable for a man’s injuries because it did not test him for MRSA before a lengthy back surgery that led to infections and more surgeries that left him in a wheelchair.

The Albuquerque Journal reports a jury in state court awarded James Woodard and his wife $4.2 million. But his attorneys said the couple will only receive $1 million since UNHM is covered by a state law that limits claims against state institutions.

Attorney Amalia Lucero said the couple will also face claims from insurance carriers seeking some or all of that award. Their medical costs were more than $2 million.

The suit claimed Woodard got MRSA in the hospital and personnel realized that fact right after the surgery. MRSA is caused by staph bacteria and is resistant to many antibiotics.

2 New Mexico Residents Accused Of Health Care FraudAssociated Press

Two New Mexico residents are facing charges for allegedly defrauding an Arizona-based health care program of nearly $2 million.

Federal prosecutors say Cory Werito and Rosita Toledo of San Juan County were arrested Tuesday and made their initial court appearances in Farmington on charges outlined in a 10-count indictment.

It wasn't clear if Werito and Toledo had attorneys.

The fraud charges stem from the defendants' role in creating and operating a company that provided non-emergency medical transportation to Arizona Medicaid recipients.

Prosecutors allege that over two years the company collected more than $1.9 million in Medicaid reimbursements from an Arizona-based Medicaid agency.

They say the company submitted more than 18,000 claims for reimbursement, the majority of which were wholly or substantially false and fraudulent.

Navajo Nation Considering Re-Establishing Police Academy Associated Press

The Navajo Nation is considering establishing a new police academy after shuttering the old one in 2012.

Officials say an academy is badly needed to recruit police officers. People who want to become police now have to go to off-reservation academies.

The Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety says officers who are trained in the nation will be more culturally sensitive to Navajo values.

The nation closed its policy academy in 2012 because of operational and maintenance issues.

The Law and Order Committee asked Diné College to review funding and other options for a new policy academy on Tuesday.

The report is due in July.