Summary of the New Mexico State of the State Address
By Stateline Staff
Announcing budget cuts, ethics reforms, public and highway safety initiatives and clean energy incentives, Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson asked lawmakers to support a laundry list of new proposals in his Jan. 19 state of the state address.
To balance the budget, Richardson proposed a total of $510 million in spending cuts, including at least $25 million in savings from consolidating agencies, boards and commissions with overlapping functions.
On the revenue side, Richardson said he would support only a temporary sales tax increase that would expire in three years or less.
Expanding on existing efforts to reform politics in New Mexico, Richardson proposed a permanent citizen-led ethics commission and new rules, including whistleblower protections for state employees, political contribution disclosures by state government contractors and bans candidates from making taxpayer-funded public service announcements.
Richardson also proposed tougher laws against drunk driving, domestic violence and gang violence, and he called for a ban on hand-held cell phone use for talking or texting while driving.
Touting progress in making New Mexico the "Clean Energy State," Richardson asked the Democratic-controlled Legislature to double tax incentives for solar energy producers, crack down on air polluters, enable coal companies to launch carbon storage projects and create a cap-and-trade bill aimed at reducing pollution and rewarding efficiency.
In other issues, Richardson asked lawmakers to extend the state's domestic partnership law to give more rights and protections to same-sex couples, reform property tax laws that he said unfairly burden homeowners and commit 5 percent of annual severance tax bonds to a fund for tribal infrastructure projects.