DALLAS — A dispute over the issuance of severance tax bonds for highways sidelined nearly $270 million of capital outlay projects as the 2015 session of the New Mexico Legislature came to an end.
New Mexico's Republican governor, Susana Martinez, said she has no plans to call a special session to revive the bond package.
By not passing the capital outlay package, lawmakers "killed jobs all over the state," Martinez said. "They killed infrastructure projects in every single corner of this state."
With control of the two houses of the legislature split between Democrats and Republicans, both houses agreed on a $6.2 billion budget that followed the guidelines Martinez proposed in January. In the final budget, Martinez has line-item veto power.
"The budget they crafted is responsible and balanced and I think it reflects the priorities of New Mexicans very well," Martinez said.
Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, said the Democratic version of the outlay bill stripped out "all those amendments that help the big oil and gas companies in southeastern New Mexico."
"We were not going to let the governor take away from families, schools, to help her friends down in the oil patch," Sanchez said.
Martinez said "Senate Democrats chose to obstruct, they chose to delay, chose to gridlock, chose to be partisan and they chose not to compromise."
The dispute over the highway funding boiled down to a dispute over spending state reserves or issuing severance-tax bonds.
The 2015 session was the first since 2011 in which lawmakers did not approve a capital outlay bill to fund senior centers, school improvements and other infrastructure projects.
The capital outlay bill passed the House on a 36-32 vote with just 20 minutes left in the session. But the Senate did not sign off on the House changes, leaving the bill to die with noon adjournment on March 21.
Three state senators who were dispatched as a formality to tell the governor the session had ended said she greeted them angrily in her office, accusing the Senate of killing the capital outlay bill, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, told the Journal Martinez was "hostile" and "vindictive."
"It really had the feel of a dictator who had been thwarted," Ortiz y Pino told The Journal.
Sanchez said the Senate was "sucker-punched" by what the House did to the capital outlay bill, removing projects the Senate put in.
"We had a hard session this year," Senate President Pro Tempore Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, said during the closing minutes. "We will be back next year."
Republicans hold a four-seat majority in the state House, while Democrats control the state Senate.