FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Scott Forrester
April 27, 2011 505-934-5681
(ALBUQUERQUE) -- This week, it was reported that Governor Martinez worked to hold $240 million in building projects hostage in order to get some of her bills passed during the waning minutes of the recently concluded legislative session.
So, rather than make major investments in the state's infrastructure and put hundreds to work, Martinez let the capital funding bill die because she simply didn't get her way on other bills.
The full story is below, but here is the key paragraph: "Republicans John C. Ryan of Albuquerque and Rod Adair of Roswell had launched a filibuster that prevented any bills from coming to a vote until a few minutes before adjournment. Senate Republican leaders told the Journal the filibuster was a tactic, ordered by the Governor's office, that they hoped would force Senate Democrats to vote on a public school reform bill Martinez favored."
"For someone who was elected promising to put politics aside, this is purely political at the expense and detriment of working New Mexicans," said Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairman Javier Gonzales. "Governor Martinez should be ashamed. Preventing capital investment that would have put hundreds to work on important projects is not only inexcusable, it's also incredibly petty. Once again Martinez has not only failed to show leadership, she actively worked to prevent a measure that would have put hundreds of New Mexicans to work."
Builders: Bill's Death Cost Jobs
Monday, April 25, 2011
By Winthrop Quigley
Copyright © 2011 Albuquerque Journal Journal Staff Writer
Contractors are warning that the 2011 Legislature's failure to authorize $240 million worth of capital outlay bonds will cost thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue.
The industry says the economic downturn, which has shown signs of reversing, make the public dollars more important — although state budget experts say the impact is hard to assess and might not be that severe.
Rick Marquardt, president of The Jaynes Companies, said his company isn't facing canceled projects but is worried about the longer term.
"Certainly, it goes without saying we're going see an impact in the future," he said. Contractors are struggling with lack of private sector business as it is, and "common sense says (less public works spending) will certainly impact the industry," Marquardt said.
The Associated General Contractors estimates that losing $240 million in public sector spending on things like schools and roads would result in 7,000 lost jobs and $16 million in unpaid gross receipts taxes, said AGC CEO Vicki Mora.
Tom Clifford, state Taxation and Revenue Department policy and research director, said if contractors took that kind of hit all at once, it could cut the construction industry's estimated $1.6 billion payroll by 7 percent to 8 percent.
State officials say that kind of drastic cut isn't likely.
First, about $60 million to $80 million worth of bonds the bill targeted for public school improvements can be sold instead through the state's Public School Capital Outlay Council.
Legislative Finance Committee director David Abbey, a council member, said "there is some discussion" about doing that this year.
The failed legislation wasn't a direct appropriation of money, rather it authorized the state to issue bonds backed by severance tax collections. When those types of bonds are approved, it can take several months before they are issued, funds are collected, bids from contractors are received and contracts awarded.
Clifford said the state has tried in the past to judge the economic impact of canceling capital outlay projects and didn't get very far. "The problem is we don't know how quickly the money rolls out," he said. "Just because bonds were approved this year doesn't mean project is ready to go."
The LFC said $688.1 million in capital outlay funds approved in past years for 1,546 projects has yet to be spent.
"From the contractor's perspective, any money available will be very helpful in difficult times," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith, D-Deming. "I don't see a monumental collapse of the system, economically speaking, because the bill didn't pass."
Larry Franken, an owner of Franken Construction Co. Inc. in Las Vegas, said about 90 percent of his company's business comes from public sector spending. His firm grosses between $10 million and $18 million a year, and currently employs about 45 people.
Absent funding for new projects, Franken said, "in six months or so there won't be anything to bid on, and it's very competitive now."
Mora said AGC is already seeing evidence of a slow-down in public projects. Enrollment has been cut in half in an apprenticeship program that AGC runs specifically for public works projects.
"We're terribly disappointed, just terribly disappointed we didn't pass the capital outlay bill," Mora said. "Clearly, it is vital to have jobs associated with capital outlay in such troubled times. It's just crazy."
Some legislators expect Gov. Susana Martinez to ask the Legislature to take up the capital outlay bill during a special redistricting session late this summer.
The bill was among the final pieces of legislation awaiting action in the Senate on the session's last day, March 19.
Republicans John C. Ryan of Albuquerque and Rod Adair of Roswell had launched a filibuster that prevented any bills from coming to a vote until a few minutes before adjournment. Senate Republican leaders told the Journal the filibuster was a tactic, ordered by the governor's office, that they hoped would force Senate Democrats to vote on a public school reform bill Martinez favored.
With just minutes left in the session, the House sent its version of the capital outlay bill for Senate concurrence.
Senators had too many objections to the House changes for a quick vote to succeed, so no vote was taken before the session ended. The Senate did not vote on Martinez's school bill, either.