Gov. Bill Richardson has signed the $6 billion fiscal 2009 state budget passed by the Legislature but only after using his line-item veto power to eliminate $15.8 million in spending.

“While I am disappointed that this budget does not do more to reach our goal of covering more New Mexicans who need quality health care, I am signing it because it generally reflects my priorities for moving New Mexico forward,” Richardson said in his signing statement.

“However, I am compelled to use my veto authority in anticipation of having to balance the budget in a fiscally responsible way,” the governor said. “I am doing what is necessary to reduce unnecessary spending and keep general fund reserves at a prudent 10% level.”

Richardson signed a bill to put a $224 million state general obligation bond package on the November ballot but vetoed the Legislature’s $348 million capital outlay bill. However, lawmakers passed an identical measure within hours and sent it to the governor shortly before adjourning on Feb. 14.

Richardson must sign the bill by March 5 or veto it. He has said he might call a special session to deal with legislation that did not pass in the regular session. 

Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said the governor vetoed the 332-page capital outlay bill that provides funding for 1,959 projects because he did not have time to review the entire proposal.

“It is unreasonable for the Legislature, which took four weeks to pass the capital outlay bill, to demand that the governor review and take action on it in just three days, while simultaneously taking action on the GO bonds, the budget bill, and junior budget bills (which finance the legislative session),” Gallegos said. “This political gamesmanship is a disservice to New Mexicans who expect their elected leaders to work together to move the state forward.”

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