Governor Ready To Cooperate

Governor Ready To Cooperate
Posted by FoM on January 16, 2001 at 07:28:59 PT
By Loie Fecteau, David Miles and S.U. Mahesh 
Source: Albuquerque Journal 
Republican Gov. Gary Johnson will stress his hope for cooperation with the Democrat-controlled Legislature when he delivers his annual State of the State address today.   "He's going to be talking about 'a new beginning,' '' said Dave Miller, the governor's legislative liaison. "He's still very encouraged." The state's 112 legislators will have a full agenda as they gather at the Roundhouse for the start of their 60-day session, which is wide open in terms of topics that can be considered. 
  Fashioning a state budget to pay for operating state government and public schools will be the lawmakers' top priority.   "The budget is the big item, and that's what we'll be concentrating on," said Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales.   Other issues are expected to include education, health care, tax cuts, economic development and electric deregulation.   During his first six years in office, Johnson prided himself on not compromising with the Legislature's Democrat majorities. His numerous vetoes earned him the nickname of "Governor No."   In recent weeks, Johnson has been singing a slightly different tune.   The governor has said he sees an opportunity to work with legislators in a way he never has before, particularly with the defeat of longtime House Speaker Raymond Sanchez, D-Albuquerque, in the November general election.   Both Johnson and Rep. Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe, who is expected to be elected House speaker today, succeeding Sanchez, said they were encouraged by the cooperative tone of a pre-session meeting.   Issues that could blow up during the session include Johnson's push to reform drug laws and the continuing debate over Indian gambling and tribal-state revenue sharing.   Johnson, who has called the nation's "war on drugs" a failure, wants to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and to lessen criminal penalties for other drug offenses.   "Drug reform is going to be talked about. It's going to be debated and, hopefully, it'll be acted upon," Miller said.   However, Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, said Democrats do not intend to let the drug issue dominate. "We're not going to let that issue drown out other priorities," he said.   Democrats will have a 42-28 majority lead in the House and a 24-18 advantage in the Senate.   And Senate Republicans told Johnson on Monday that drug reform was not one of their priorities, said Senate Minority Whip Leonard Lee Rawson, R-Las Cruces. "We're not going to get sidetracked by the drug issue," he said.   House Majority Whip James Taylor, D-Albuquerque, said drug-law reform is not resonating with the public.   "Neither is vouchers," Taylor said, referring to Johnson's proposal to give parents $5,200 vouchers that could be used to pay tuition at public, private or religious schools.   Legislators have rejected similar voucher proposals in the past.   On another score, a lawsuit by three tax-poor school districts has put pressure on lawmakers to address the issue of how the state pays for public school construction and renovation.   A state district judge found the system for financing construction unfair. A task force has recommended spending about $1.3 billion on construction and repairs over the next five years.   Rep. Rick Miera, D-Albuquerque, chairman of the House Education Committee, said Monday he would sponsor a bill and a proposed constitutional amendment embodying the task force recommendations.   "I think this is a great opportunity to provide equity throughout the state," Miera said.   Much of the annual state budget battle will center on how big a pay raise to give teachers and whether there is enough money to enact Johnson's proposed $75 million personal income tax cut.   Lujan said lawmakers are willing to consider Johnson's tax-cut proposal. But he said legislators want to first raise teachers' salaries so that they are on a par with their counterparts in surrounding states.   There could be fireworks in the Senate today over proposals by majority Democrats to change procedural rules to limit senators' assignments to committees. Republicans have complained the proposed rule changes are unfair to the minority party.  On the House side, House Minority Leader Ted Hobbs, R-Albuquerque, said he plans to propose some rules changes in that chamber, including a plan to change how House committees are appointed. Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)Author: Loie Fecteau, David Miles and S.U. Mahesh Journal Staff Writers Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2001Copyright: 2001 Albuquerque JournalAddress: P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103Contact: opinion abqjournal.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Governor Gary Johnson's Home Page Mexico Republicans Should Stick To GOP Basics Articles - Governor Gary Johnson 
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: