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Morning Word: Not Bad for Government Work

May 25, 2017, 7:30 am

Six-figure spot
The next mayor of Santa Fe will be paid $110,000 annually when the elected office becomes a full-time job in after the March 2018 election. The city's Independent Salary Commission decided on the pay after a contentious meeting last night. The commission had floated a range of $145,000-$175,000, but a public outcry pushed their considerations lower. The mayor will make less than 15 city employees, part of a city salary structure some commissioners called top-heavy. 

Budget bills await governor's action
The Legislature sent two bills to the governor on the first day of the special session. One is essentially an identical bill to the one from which Susana Martinez vetoed the entire budget of the state's Higher Education Department. The other would borrow money from planned construction projects to help cover spending next year. The state's cash reserves are paper-thin unless revenue picks up or the governor signs a tax increase—something she's been adamantly against.

University leaders pipe up
Legislators heard from the higher education community as they considered the bill to restore $744 million in vetoed funding the state's colleges and universities. The veto has affected enrollment, faculty recruiting and accrediting at state schools. Former Republican Governor Garrey Carruthers now leads New Mexico State University said it's simply "not good for the image of New Mexico."

No veto override
Both the House and Senate kicked off the session by unsuccessfully attempting to override the governor's line item vetoes. That would have made it a very short session. After both attempts failed, legislative leaders said the votes could show the Supreme Court that the Legislature had exhausted all its options before once again asking the high court to toss out the governor's vetoes. Earlier this month, justices sent back a petition filed by lawmakers, saying it was premature for the court to weigh in.

FBI raids state tax offices
The Federal Bureau of Investigation paid a visit to the state Tax and Revenue Department yesterday. It's part of an ongoing grand jury investigation into an unnamed department employee who has worked there since 2006. It's not known if that investigation is related to the state investigation of former department secretary Demesia Padilla, which has not produced any charges.

State auditor will review UNM golf junket
Financial staffers from the Office of the State Auditor plan to sift through the records of the University of New Mexico's Athletics Department after KRQE revealed UNM didn't just fork over $40,000 for its own employees to golf posh Scotland courses like St. Andrews and Trump Turnberry. It also paid $24,000 for private business executives to play, too. That could violate the state's anti-donation clause.

Reliable records
More than $318,000 in advertising paid for by lobbyists in 2016 and 2017 went virtually unreported through the state's online records system. It's a massive gap in what the public is able to learn about who is influencing its elected officials. The secretary of state is hoping lawmakers will fork over just less than $1 million to pay for a new system to track those records.

UNM boosts tuition costs
The University of New Mexico will raise tuition for upper-division courses and graduate classes as the school looks to plug gaps in state funding. The hike leaves untouched the fees for more than half the school's undergraduate classes, though it's undoubtedly going to cost more to graduate now.

Thanks for reading! The Word thinks it only makes sense to charge graduates more for the privilege of entering the worst state employment market in the country.

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