Showdown in Santa Fe: Historic Veto Override on the Horizon

A big showdown is setting up in Santa Fe this week between the governor and the legislature.

Last week, the Senate took the first step toward achieving an historic vetoShowdownoverride of a governor when they resurrected 2011′s SB47 back from the dead and placed it on the President’s calendar for a veto override vote. (Our research shows that the last time this succeeded was in 2002 under Gov. Gary Johnson – though it was tried a few times under Richardson).

The bill passed both houses with unanimous approval last session, only to meet the governor’s veto pen. 

SB47 (2011) should have been an easy approval from the governor pushing a “transparent and accountable government” agenda.  It would have required the executive branch to complete an audit of every tax credit in the state over $500,000 for:

a projection of the costs of tax expenditures for all significant general fund sources; 

 the statutory basis, including year of enactment, date of repeal, and purpose; 

 quantity of revenue expended by the state for each expenditure;

 the aggregate amount of each expenditure and the business that used the expenditure

 the total of all the costs of expenditures for each fiscal year

 the estimated number of jobs created and the number of businesses that qualify for but failed to apply the tax expenditure; and

 should identify unexpected effects of the tax expenditure

Seems simple enough, and something EVERY legislator could get behind in 2011.  But the governor didn’t want to publicly disclose which businesses were getting the biggest tax breaks, how many jobs those businesses created with those breaks or how much revenue the state was giving up to help those businesses. 

The bill even provided for the opportunity to identify New Mexico businesses which could benefit from the credit, but hadn’t. Imagine if the state tax collector called and said, “Hey, did you know you could be saving a couple-of-hundred thousand dollars in taxes and hiring more workers?”  How’s that for good government?   

How the governor could be opposed to this is beyond me, unless she was looking to protect those big tax giveaways for companies that take New Mexico tax break money to buy corporate jets and fund big corporate bonuses out of state.

The more interesting piece, at least in the short-term, is whether any Republican legislators will cross the governor and vote against her veto, or whether they will flip-flop their vote from last year under pressure from the 4th Floor.

Will this be one of those votes the governor scores when she is looking to hand out her million-dollar campaign slush fund?

Only time will tell, but I can bet you everyone from the 4th Floor to the legislative floors will be counting.

Update:  We asked the governor what she thinks about the possibility of a veto override, and whether she’ll be counting votes.  When we suggested there might be a list of “naughty Republicans” who would vote to override her, she asked for it!

 

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