At the very start of the 2013 legislative session, we overheard Keith Gardner, chief of staff to Governor Susana Martinez gush with excitement over newly ensconced Speaker of the House Kenny Martinez.
Unlike Senate Majority leader Michael Sanchez, who strongly opposes Governor Martinez’s bad for New Mexico agenda, Gardner told a table of lobbyists that Kenny Martinez would work with Governor Martinez.
It now looks as if Kenny Martinez has caved completely to Governor Martinez. Former Speaker Ben Lujan, a man of the people, would not have caved in this fashion.
Afraid to force Governor Martinez to veto a budget that is good for public education some Democrats in the House Appropriations committee allowed Martinez to grab control of the state’s public education funds from school districts.
As Rep. Christine Trujillo told the Albuquerque Journal the education funding in the budget bill was “hijacked” giving the Martinez administration control. Trujillo, along with Stephanie Garcia Richard, and Elizabeth Thompson were the lone voices on the appropriations committee willing to stand up for what is right.
Appropriations committee deputy chairman, Luciana “Lucky” Varela, went along with the budget failure, telling the Journal he did so because Governor Martinez threatened to veto any bill not giving her control of the education dollars.
So let Governor Martinez veto the bill!
Cowardice comes to mind, which is odd considering how Democrats kicked Governor Martinez’s political operation’s butt in the 2012 election cycle.
Rep. Mimi Stewart has proved herself far more willing to stand up for what is right and needed for this state than Kenny Martinez. But, it is not too late. Kenny Martinez should make sure that when the budget bill makes it to the House floor for a vote, that Democrats send it back to the Appropriations committee and take back control of education funding.
While at it, Kenny Martinez needs to explain why he allowed a Democrat and member of the House leadership, Mary Helen Garcia, to vote down letting the voters decide on raising the minimum wage.
Garcia, an apologist for Susana Martinez’s anti-working families agenda, needs to be taken to the proverbial wood shed by Speaker Martinez.
So Speaker Martinez, crunch time is here. Time to prove yourself worthy of being speaker of the house and walking in Ben Lujan’s footsteps.