Mario Burgos

Clear thinking and straight talk from the top of a mountain.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Governor Richardson's Priorities

Governor Bill Richardson called the legislators into a special legislative session and according to an article by Winthrop Quigley And Jeff Jones our State Senators were less than pleased with the Governor for doing so (subscription):
State senators on Sunday panned a $58 million-a-year children's health coverage plan by Gov. Bill Richardson, while blasting the governor himself for calling them into a special legislative session.

Angry senators said the session is unnecessary, will accomplish little and was called only to serve Richardson's national political ambitions.

"I really have no earthly idea why we are in this building except to serve the political purposes of this governor," Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, said during a hearing on Richardson's proposal to provide universal children's health coverage — a bill the Senate, acting as a committee of the whole, later voted to table.

Sen. Kent Cravens, R-Albuquerque, said a legislative staff analysis of the bill amounts to "a list of reasons not to do this." And he said it was introduced to give Richardson, who is discussed as a possible Democratic vice-presidential nominee, a "headline" for his speech later this month to the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

The bill is "about self-glorification of a man who is moving on," Cravens said.

Richardson spokeswoman Alarie Ray-Garcia said later, "Governor Richardson is not concerned about personal attacks made by a couple members of the Senate. Rather his focus, as it always has been, is on getting meaningful legislation passed to give 50,000 uninsured children access to health care and provide relief to working families who are struggling because of high gas prices."
Ok, let's just skip straight to the meat of this issue. Richardson's spokeswoman would have us believe that this session is about the importance of providing 50,000 uninsured children access to health care. The problem with this argument is that Govenor Richardson has been in office since 2002. That means that he has had at least six regular sessions to allocate $58 million for uninsured kids. However, he had more important priorities, for example:

  1. Richardson chose to give billionaire Richard Branson a $100 million gift that just keeps on giving, rather than providing 50,000 uninsured children with access to health care.

  2. Spending over $400 million and counting for a train that serves a very small percentage of the overall state population.

  3. Increasing annual spending by over $2 billion - including an 11% increase in one year alone - without ever giving a second thought to 50,000 children.

  4. Even fish farms have ranked higher than the 50,000 uninsured children.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Oh, and lest you think I'm just just conveniently neglecting to give the Govenor credit for the other "purpose" of this special session - " provide relief to working families who are struggling because of high gas prices" - it's important to remember that both the Governor's spaceport and train require an increase in gross receipts taxes in order to operate long term.

In other words, both of these pet projects require a regressive tax, which takes far more from the working poor than the Governor is offering to give back.

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