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Morning Word: Gov Says Food Tax is on the Table

May 11, 2017, 7:30 am

Gov backs food tax
This is not a full-throated endorsement, mind you, but Gov. Susana Martinez told reporters she'd actually consider reinstating the food tax if it's part of a wide-reaching tax reform package. Martinez says the goal is to make taxes lower overall, but make them apply to more taxpayers. Powerful senators have already balked at the governor's call to handle major tax reform in the upcoming special session, but everything is a poker chip and it's hard to tell what's in play until everyone's at the table.

Butt out on the Plaza
The City Council went into Wednesday's meeting to consider a ban on smoking on the Plaza during bandstand events. Councilors came out of it with a full-time ban on smoking and, likely, vaping on the Plaza. A last-minute amendment removed the "bandstand events" part of the ban, which means a lot of friendly warnings are in store for Plaza puffers.

Methane rule keeps sucking
Natural gas, that is! Ahem. The US Senate failed to repeal a rule finalized in November of last year that forces oil and gas producers to recapture fugitive gas. (That's what they call it; picture it with huge beard and a burning desire to expose the truth about Provasic.) It's a loss for oil and gas producers, who claim that despite being able to sell the gas they recapture, the technology is still too expensive. New Mexico's San Juan Basin is home to the nation's largest methane hotspot.

State botches Medicaid case for 82-year-old
But hey, at least the Human Services Department blamed it on a computer glitch. That'll help Viola Weir pay her nursing home bills. The state couldn't be bothered to explain itself to NM Political Report, but advocates say the agency is working with about one-fifth of its positions unfilled. Eventually, the problem did get fixed, but only after five months and not without serious stress to the 82-year-old and her family.

Gov's pension sweep illegal?
That's what the Public Employees Retirement Association thinks. The PERA is the state agency in charge of managing the fund for legislative retirement benefits. The governor has been adamant that lawmakers share the pain of budget tightening by dipping into their retirement pool for $12.5 million. The PERA, though, tells that's unconstitutional.

Jell-o Shots
Listening to Energy Secretary—and Texan—Rick Perry talk about the nation's nuclear labs can be pretty entertaining. So, too, can hearing Perry talk about climate change: to “use a highly untechnical term, we'll continue to throw some Jell-o at the wall in a lot of different places, and adopt a lot of different ways, because from time to time you find some answers to some things you had no idea you were going to find solutions to ...” Perry told the Albuquerque Journal when asked if he'd support climate change research at Los Alamos National Lab. He toured LANL yesterday.

WIPP gets bonuses from feds 
Carlsbad's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant wasn't open during the federal budget year that ended last October. Nuclear Waste Partnership, the company that runs WIPP for the Department of Energy, was still repairing damage from a 2014 accident that closed the nuclear storage facility. Still, the company earned more than $11 million in bonuses for its performance during the year, which took into account work necessary to reopen the deep storage plant. It's 72 percent of what was available in bonuses.

Legislature wants Supreme Court to act fast
New Mexico lawmakers have asked the Supreme Court to set aside the governor's plea to wait until after the May 24 special session to decide whether her line-item vetoes of the Legislature's funding and all money for public higher education were unconstitutional. In a filing yesterday, the Legislature's attorneys say it's important to know by the time they meet if her vetoes stand or if the state budget actually still contains the money. Oral arguments in the case are set for Monday.

Thanks for reading! The Word wonders if Rick Perry truly understands the fluid dynamics of jello. Or is that a colloidal suspension? Save us, science ... if you can.

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