Governor Discusses Possible DMV Cuts During Today's Los Alamos Visit
Gov. Susana Martinez visited Los Alamos this afternoon for a brief press conference at the Department of Motor Vehicles on Central Avenue. Martinez said she chose the venue to highlight the possible reduction of hours for the DMV as part of cost cutting measures due to the recent failure of the New Mexico Legislature to deliver a balanced budget. Hours also may be cut for state parks along with possible furloughs for state workers, Martinez said.
“I was given a budget that didn’t balance,” Martinez said. “I could not sign it.”
She set aside higher education and legislative portions of the budget for further discussion in the upcoming Special Session. The Legislature will return to wrestle with the budget during this session, which Martinez said she hopes can be completed in one day.
Thirty percent of New Mexico’s budget is dependent on oil and gas revenues, the prices of which have fallen steeply in recent years, making budget cuts necessary, Martinez said.
The Democratically controlled legislature funded the shortfall through a separate bill entailing $350 million in tax increases, which Martinez rejected. The 10 cent hike in the gas tax would unfairly burden rural New Mexicans, she said.
“I don’t want to raise the gas tax,” Martinez told the small group gathered today at the local DMV. “The government needs to work within its means.”
Martinez pointed out that she had proposed a balanced budget, but the legislature rejected the cuts she proposed. The Legislature refused to reduce the 145 percent solvency of its retirement fund to 100 percent, she said. The budget the legislature presented to her contained a 4 percent increase for the legislative branch while everyone else took a cut, she said.
“The executive branch took a voluntary 5 percent cut,” Martinez said.
CEO Linda Daly of The Family YMCA asked the Governor if a proposed gross receipts tax on nonprofits is still in play. The Governor responded that she didn’t know if it would be part of the final budget. Martinez said an overall lowering of the gross receipts tax would allow businesses to be more generous in their contributions to nonprofits if they were required to pay the tax.