Morning Word: Shortfall in federal budget throws a wrench into budget
And the rest of New Mexico's news...
January 14, 2014, 8:00 am
- Those who are attempting to craft the state budget are stymied by a shortfall in federal funds related to the state's troubled SHARE accounting system.
The Department of Finance and Administration is mired in seven years of neglected ledgers. In 2012, the department identified $70 million in accounting discrepancies. In 2013, the Legislature authorized $70 million in operating reserves to reconcile the shortfall, but Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed the language.
Now, the Department of Finance and Administration reports it has raised the state’s estimated liability from the shortfall to $101.7 million from $70 million. But the department hasn’t been able to determine if either figure fully reflects the scope of the problem, or its origin.
- I updated the annual guide to following the legislative session through Twitter. This includes groups, newspapers, individuals and just about anyone who you should follow during the legislative session. If I didn't include a Twitter handle that I should have, let me know.
- Gov. Susana Martinez gave an interview to Albuquerque Business First.
Many of the governor’s major initiatives this year focus on economic development, including making $10 million in Local Economic Development Act funding a permanent part of the Economic Development Department’s annual budget.
- The second mayoral debate in Santa Fe was pretty lively according to the Santa Fe Reporter. Again, the debate only featured fireworks between Santa Fe city councilor Patti Bushee and former Democratic Party of New Mexico chairman Javier Gonzalez. A third mayoral candidate -- Bill Dimas -- refuses to attend debates he says are put on by public interests.
This debate was sponsored by the Santa Fe Reporter and ProgressNow New Mexico.
- A state judge ruled that doctors can prescribe medicine to aid in the death of terminal patients.
The ACLU of New Mexico, which brought the case on behalf of two doctors in the state, issued a statement after the ruling.
"New Mexicans, both healthy and sick, now enjoy the comfort and peace of mind that come with knowing they can prevent a prolonged, agonized dying process at the end of life," ACLU-NM Legal Director Laura Schauer Ives said in the statement. "The court agreed that the New Mexico Constitution guarantees terminally ill patients they do not have to stay trapped in a dying process they find unbearable."
- The four Democratic members of New Mexico's delegation still back the Affordable Care Act -- but want to fix them problems that have come along. The lone Republican wants a full repeal. Michael Coleman of the Albuquerque Journal spoke to each of them.
- A total of 7,688 New Mexicans had selected an insurance plan on the state exchange. Another 12,327 were deemed eligible for Medicaid through the exchange.
- An EPA report outlined the threat posted to Albuquerque's drinking water by a massive jet fuel spill on Kirtland Air Force Base. The report says it could be 30 years until it reaches wells used for Albuquerque drinking water -- but other wells could be impacted much sooner.
- The Children, Youth and Families Department are unclear on what can be made public in the investigation of a 9-year-old boy who was killed by his mother.
- An ethics hearing against Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston will go forward despite objections by Houston's attorney.
"The way the rules were articulated in a manner that would make you believe that these rules were articulated specifically for me and that causes me concern," Houston said.
Approval of the temporary rules comes a month after the board determined there were enough reasons to move forward with a complaint filed by private citizen Travis Ogle against Houston.
- State Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, spoke about education with the Deming Education Association.
Don't bother sending him email if you want to get in contact with him:
Sen. Smith then mentioned various means to continue the conversation. He admits that he never reads his spam-ridden e-mail, but will read any hand-written letter sent to him in Santa Fe while in session. He also suggests local residents call him at 986-4600, identifying themselves as constituents, and the call will be passed through, even to the floor of the Roundhouse.
- A judge postponed the decision on whether or not a horse slaughterhouse should be barred from opening until Friday. And things got heated.
Blair Dunn, the 6-foot-9 lawyer who represents the Roswell-area Valley Meat Co., slammed his hand on a table while his opponent from the state attorney general’s staff was making a rebuttal argument.
Dunn apologized and was not held in contempt of court.
A brief silence held the courtroom before Wilson spoke. He told Dunn that a brazen show of disrespect was no way to make an objection.
- The city of Albuquerque is taking the question of whether or not Albuquerque firefighter Emily Kane can remain in the state House of Representatives to the state Court of Appeals. The city bars employees from running for elected office -- but Kane successfully won a case in 2012 in state district court allowing her to run.
- Two Democratic treasurer candidates are already sparring, months ahead of the primary. Steve Terrell examines the attacks that center around a column by a Republican columnist.
- The Taos News receive documents that showed years of problems with special education in Taos.
- A new president and vice president of the Mescalero Apache Tribe were inaugurated.
- The twelfth and final wind turbine was put in place at the Grady wind farm in eastern New Mexico.
“We just installed the final turbine. There are a lot of details we need to work out before we begin operations,” BayWa CEO Florian Zerhusen said Monday in a phone interview. Zerhusen said there is no tentative date to begin operation, only that it would be operational in 2014.The project will provide 19.8 megawatts.
- The Los Angeles Times covers the efforts of the Fort Sill Apache Tribe to get recognition in New Mexico.
Last month, the Fort Sill Apache sued Gov. Susana Martinez to force the state to recognize them as a legitimate New Mexico tribe, which would give its members the same access to state agencies and programs other tribes enjoy.
"The state believes that these limited resources are best reserved for those tribes that serve a population base here in New Mexico," Martinez's spokesman Enrique C. Knell said in a statement. "The federal government does not recognize Fort Sill as a New Mexico tribe, finding that they lack any government structure or population base in New Mexico."
- The city of Deming and Hidalgo County settled a lawsuit with a man who was anally probed in a search for drugs. There were no drugs. Hidalgo County will pay $650,000 and the city of Deming will pay $950,000. The man is also suing the doctors involved, Gila Regional Medical Center and the deputy district attorney who signed off on the warrants.
- The city of Albuquerque settled for $300,000 in the fatal shooting of a man by an Albuquerque Police Department officer.
- Meanwhile, the father of a man who was shot by Albuquerque Police Department on December 1 is suing, saying APD is illegally denying records requests related to the shooting.
The public records request was denied due to an “ongoing investigation” according to correspondence between the Kennedy Law Firm and the APD records department. The lawsuit, filed Friday, alleges that APD “made no attempt or effort to make non-exempt information, documents or material evidence available for Plaintiff’s review, nor indicate how the records requested fall within the cited exemption.”
Kennedy also said she believes the investigation is over – police have already indicated that they will charge Sherrill once he is released from the hospital, she said.
- The extension of the mission of the International Space Station to 2024 is good news for southern New Mexico.
NASA White Sands Test Facility (NASA WSTF) is a support facility for the International Space Station (ISS). NASA WSTF does failure analysis on micro-meteoroid orbital debris impacts, for example. In English, they look at what happens to materials in space should they get hit by orbiting debris, a screw or a even paint chip. They also work on oxygen systems, and life support system analysis for station. For the readers who saw the movie Gravity, when Sandra Bullock called NASA, the communications come through the NASA site.
- A cool story in the Carlsbad Current-Argus about people who have seen black panthers in the Guadalupe Mountains. The last such sighting was in 1990, but they date back to the 19th century.