Pension pratfall: PERA reports $1.2 billion increase in unfunded liabilities

By Rob Nikolewski on October 23, 2012

The bad news for the state’s largest pension program — the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) — got worse on Tuesday (Oct. 23) when its executive director told members of a committee at the Roundhouse that PERA’s unfunded liability increased by $1.2 billion in the past year.
“The increase was not unexpected,” Wayne Probst told the [...]

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The $7.9 million redistricting bill: The lawyers did very well, NM taxpayers not so good

By Rob Nikolewski on September 25, 2012

They squabbled in the legislature. They squabbled with the governor’s office. They squabbled in court. And the state Supreme Court squabbled with the retired judge they put in charge of reapportioning New Mexico’s voting districts before a final decision was reached.
Now, a breakdown of the costs of the 2011-2012 redistricting battle — the once-every-10-years process [...]

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Abusing the Roundhouse’s reimbursement policy? Two lawmakers say they’ve seen it

By Rob Nikolewski on September 25, 2012

Recent stories of a couple Roundhouse legislators receiving questionable payments charged to state taxpayers sparked discussion on Tuesday (Sept. 25), with two state representatives saying they’ve witnessed suspicious practices by fellow lawmakers when it comes to charging mileage and receiving per diem.
“We’ve had abuse of that lately,” Rep. Don Bratton (R-Hobbs) said at a meeting [...]

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The Barreras-Fajardo race draws attention from both parties in the Roundhouse

By Rob Nikolewski on September 18, 2012

If Republicans are going to take the majority of the state House of Representatives for the first time in 59 years — and if Democrats are going to maintain their edge — seats like the one in House District 7 in Valencia County will be crucial.
And the race between Republican Kelly Fajardo and Democrat Andrew [...]

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NM Democrats upset over elimination of straight-party voting

By Rob Nikolewski on June 18, 2012

One day after hearing that Secretary of State Dianna Duran has decided to get rid of straight-party voting in the upcoming November elections, the reaction in the Roundhouse was predictable as Democrats opposed the ruling while Republicans approved it.
“A decision like that should be the prerogative of the voters,” Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela (D-Santa Fe) [...]

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Democrats shoot down Republican redistricting bill

By Rob Nikolewski on September 22, 2011

Democrats are doubling down on their own House redistricting plan — even though it looks like Gov. Susana Martinez will veto it.
On Thursday afternoon (Sept. 22), the House Voters and Elections Comittee tabled House Bill 47, a measure sponsored by Minority Floor Leader Tom Taylor (R-Farmington), that Taylor and the GOP described as the best [...]

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One group that profited nicely in the last redistricting special session? Lawyers

By Rob Nikolewski on June 20, 2011

Taxpayers in New Mexico paid nearly $5.3 million for the total costs of the special session in 2001 that tackled redistricting — and $3.5 of that amount went strictly to settle legal challenges after the legislature and then-Gov. Gary Johnson could not reach an agreement on how to draw up state and congressional boundaries.
As [...]

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A balanced look at the balanced budget heading to Gov. Martinez

By Rob Nikolewski on March 18, 2011

Like a college student who has finally turned in his term paper at the end of the semester, lawmakers on Friday morning (March 18) had a collective sense of relief that a budget deal was struck late Thursday night, even if a number of them weren’t crazy about the final product.
After all, sending a budget [...]

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Here comes the bride

By Rob Nikolewski on March 12, 2011

As far as anybody knows, history was made at the Roundhouse this morning (March 12).
A marriage ceremony was performed on the floor of the House of Representatives as Rep. Shirley Tyler (R-Lovington) married J.B. Pugh of Odessa, Texas.
The bride was escorted into the chamber by Republican colleague Don Bratton of Hobbs while Rep. Paul Bandy (R-Aztec) supplied [...]

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John Grubesic: What politicians could learn from pickup basketball in the ‘hood

By Rob Nikolewski on March 3, 2011

After my first year in law school, I realized that I had two more years to prepare myself for going out and getting a job.  I took full advantage of this by doing everything I could to avoid any opportunity that might lead to future employment. 
Like any law school, the University of Denver was [...]

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