Battle lines drawn early on first day of NM Legislative session, Sanchez spars with Gov Martinez
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Well, any “era of good feelings” for this brand new 60-day legislative session didn’t last long.
A little more than a couple hours after new Speaker of the House told his chamber, “if we disagree it should never be disagreeable” and about a half hour after Republican Gov. spoke of “the progress we have made together” in her State of the State address, Senate Majority Leader (D-Belen) delivered a pugnacious point-by-point Democratic Party response aimed at the governor.
In her 39-minute speech, for example, Gov. Martinez called for lowering the corporate tax rate in the state from 7.6 percent to 4.9 percent — something she called “a reasonable, balanced approach” to align New Mexico with neighboring states.
Sen. Sanchez called it “tax giveaways for the rich” that “comes at the expense of funding our schools and training tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.”
Martinez also reiterated her call for public school reform, including retaining third-graders who cannot read at a minimal level. “It’s far more compassionate to have that child repeat (a grade) — to get them up to speed — than to simply pass them onto the next grade,” Martinez said.
“We will again sponsor legislation to fully fund Pre-K education from the state’s permanent school fund so that we don’t wait on our children to reach third grade before we provide them help,” Sanchez responded.
“Reform in education should have no political party label,” Martinez said, adding, “It’s about having the courage to challenge the status quo, to put student achievement and nothing else at the very top of our list of concerns.”
Sanchez countered with a couple hard shots.
“We can’t recruit (new) teachers if we continue to insist they spend more time testing than teaching and blame them for all of our problems,” said Sanchez who after Martinez and her political action committee ran negative ads against him this election cycle.
And then, going away from his prepared remarks, Sanchez said, “Why don’t you go in and teach a class of 30 students if you really want to find out what it’s like … not as a photo op, not to bring props.”The governor in her speech also called for making another attempt at rescinding the state law granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, which drew a standing ovation from the Republicans in the audience while Democrats sat silently.
“Focusing on divisive wedge issues does nothing to address the serious challenges we face,” Sanchez said.
“I know we can come together and find common ground,” Martinez said at the end of speech.
“I love the attitude of the governor to say she wants to work together,” Sanchez said, again deviating from his text. “Great attitude but actions speak louder than words.”
News of Sanchez’s remarks had the Roundhouse buzzing, especially after newly-elected Speaker of the House W. Ken Martinez (D-Grants) seemed to go out of his way to compliment Republicans after taking the gavel and new Senate Pro Tem (D-Las Cruces) called for unity.
“We’re family and we need to stick together,” Sen. Papen said after her rival for the pro tem position, Sen. (D-Las Vegas), decided on this opening day of the session to withdraw. Instead, Campos nominated Papen, who assumed the leadership role by unanimous acclamation of Senate Republicans and Democrats.
“I didn’t hear (Sanchez’s) remarks,” Sen. (D-Santa Fe) said. “But there’s no question there’s still a lingering coming out this campaign … I just think the challenge is to try and find out where the places are we can work together … I’m always the optimist, I just think we can’t fail.”
“What I’m doing right now is taking the governor’s State of State (address) and Sen. Sanchez’s remarks and try to flush out what the differences are,” Sen. Campos said, “and from there see where we can come up with a compromise, see what the differences are and set up an agenda.”
Finding common ground is at the heart of legislative action but Day One of this 60-day session got off to a foreboding start.
of the governor’s speech.
of Senate Majority Leader Sanchez’s response, courtesy of KNME-TV.
And click here for coverage of W. Ken Martinez getting elected Speaker of the House and MaryKay Papen elected Senate Pro Tem.
And here’s video we shot of Sanchez criticizing Martinez’s call for an outright repeal of the driver’s license law: