Morning Word: OT for state workers balloons
And the rest of New Mexico's news...
December 30, 2013, 8:00 am
- As the amount of state workers continues to drop, overtime expenses are rising.
Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela, D-Santa Fe, said he’s concerned about the trend. He questioned why some state agencies in Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration have not been using the full amount of money appropriated to them by the Legislature for filling vacant jobs.
You can only run overtime for an individual for so long before they start burning out,” said Varela, chairman of the Legislative Finance Committee.
- Sen. Jacob Candelaria wants to take away the pocket veto.
The proposed constitutional change would require the governor to either approve or veto legislation within the 20-day deadline that applies to all bills passed in the last three days of a session.
“The governor shall provide an explanation for each veto,” the amendment also says.
- The Associated Press writes, "Democrats have all but conceded that Republican Govs. Brian Sandoval and Susana Martinez will win re-election."
- I counted down the ten most read stories of 2013 on New Mexico Telegram. Number one will surprise you -- it certainly surprised me.
- Former Albuquerque mayor and two-term State Land Commissioner Jim Baca says that Alan Webber or Lawrence Rael will win the Democratic primary for governor. Also of note:
I had called Webber a few months ago to sit down and see what he was all about. He never called to make the appointment which makes me believe his organization wasn't functioning yet, I guess. Gary King and Rael have called. King wants money and Rael wants to talk over ideas.
- The Santa Fe New Mexican looks at the Santa Fe mayoral race.
- But will a push for a minimum wage increase help Democrats in 2014?
- Recall petitions for the Bernalillo County treasurer are being filed.
- Eastern New Mexico legislators are supporting a proposed constitutional amendment to make marriage between same-sex couples illegal.
- The Sierra Club endorsed Javier Gonzalez for mayor of Santa Fe. One of his opponents, Patti Bushee, said it was undeserved.
- Media news: The Journal North will shift to a weekly model. It is currently printed Tuesday through Sunday.
- The Albuquerque Police Department is already shorthanded and will be even moreso come the start of the year.
- The state had weather extremes in 2013.
Meteorologist Kerry Jones had his own description.
"If you had to sum it up, it would just be the switch from the extreme drought to wet," he said. "It's always a collection of extremes, and this year was magnified."
Jones spent part of his Christmas shift crunching numbers. He found that about a dozen days of moisture in July and September accounted for nearly three-quarters of Albuquerque's total rainfall this year.
- Navajo students can get in-state tuition in Arizona.
- The Rio Rancho Observer looks back at the top ten stories of the year. Number one? The economy. And in Rio Rancho, that is inexorably tied to Intel.
- The cleanup of a massive jet fuel spill from Kirtland Air Force Base isn't going as fast as many would hope. Background on the spill:
The Air Force discovered in 1999 that fuel had been leaking, likely for decades, from underground pipes at its Kirtland aircraft fueling station. A New Mexico Environment Department scientist later estimated that as much as 24 million gallons may have spilled over the years. In 2007, Air Force environmental workers found fuel floating on the water table some 500 feet beneath the base, and in subsequent years workers have found contaminated groundwater beneath southeast Albuquerque neighborhoods, a mile from the spill’s source and moving in the direction of Albuquerque drinking water wells. The New Mexico Environment Department recently estimated the spill is within 5 to 7 years of reaching the nearest drinking water well. An independent review by scientists with the federal Centers for Disease Control last summer concluded that the risk to public health is low, but that the only way to prevent exposure might be to shut down some Albuquerque drinking water wells.
- Southern New Mexico is seeing healhty economic growth.
- The state is looking at purchasing some BLM land.
The Bureau of Land Management is looking to sell thousands of acres that no longer meet the agency’s mission or are landlocked. Powell hopes to acquire some of the land, especially parcels along the interstates around Las Cruces and in the oil- and gas-rich Permian Basin of southeastern New Mexico. “We’re interested in high-value property that could be used for commercial purposes and would earn money for our beneficiaries,” Powell said.
Sen. Michael S. Sanchez, D-Belen, is sponsoring legislation, Senate Bill 1, to give the State Land Office $250,000 over the next two years to study the feasibility of BLM land acquisitions. The bill will be considered in the Legislature’s 30-day session, which focuses on budgetary matters and begins Jan. 21.
- Albuquerque Business First looked back at predictions that local business leaders made at the beginning of 2013.
- Yesterday was the final Sunday of the year. So you know what that means: The annual Cowchip Awards from the Albuquerque Journal.
- New Mexico fast food chain Blake's Lotaburgers are ubiquitous throughout New Mexico. But now the chain is expanding to outside the state. A location will open in El Paso in early January -- and a second is going to the Texas city in the spring.