Lawmakers happy to see capital outlay projects approved

Staff and Wire Reports

Gov. Bill Richardson faces a tough obstacle as he seeks the Democratic nomination for president.

He managed another tough obstacle earlier this week — pleasing a majority of state legislators — by approving nearly $700 million in capital outlay projects.

“I have signed this capital outlay package without any vetoes as a sign of good will,” Richardson said in a statement.

Last year, Richardson used veto power to take out more than $100 million worth of projects across the state.

Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, was happy to see such cooperation with Richardson, especially since he was able to reintroduce many items that were vetoed last year.

“I’m tickled to death he did that,” Ingle said. “I think the Legislature got the stuff up early, and he got his stuff down to us early. We got a program that worked really well.”

Projects for Curry County included $920,000 for construction of the Clovis effluent reuse system, $800,000 for Clovis Industrial Park roads, buildings and infrastructure, and $1.27 million toward the Curry County events center. Portales projects included $100,000 for editing equipment at KENW-TV, $100,000 for improvements at the Melrose Bombing Range and $150,000 for improvements on Juniper Street.

A full list is available at the Legislature Web site (http:// legis.state.nm.us)

Richardson had said before the session he planned to take such actions with capital outlay, but it was still a surprise to some legislators.

Rep. Keith Gardner, R-Roswell, thought an important part of the process was making sure nobody tried to take advantage of the governor’s promise by throwing in frivolous requests.

“Everybody was cautious about making sure the projects could be fully funded,” Gardner said. “We have a good vetting process in the House. Any problems those projects may have are typically discovered during that process.”

Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, wasn’t surprised to see the capital outlay go through. But it was still a cause for celebration.

“One of the things about the capital project that pleased me the most was what we were able to put back in,” Harden said. “I was one of the major hittees last year, if you will. In the Senate bill, we got about $1.4 million back for the district.”

Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, felt letting the bill pass was a sign of confidence in city and county commissions that make priorities.

“I think he (governor) recognizes that our local communities understand what their needs are,” Kernan said. “I think he realized that we have been working with the cities and they had very legitimate requests.”

That may be true, but Ingle said building momentum as a presidential candidate was a motivation for Richardson as well, and it paid off locally.

“He’s certainly busy running for the presidency,” Ingle said.