Bold and prudent, aggressive and smart, fearless and well-prepared.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham laid out her plan for the Legislature's 60-day session Tuesday, as lawmakers convened from across the state to spend the next two months crafting a budget and new policies for New Mexico.
It's the first time in eight years that all one party, the Democrats, controls both the Legislature and the governor's office. The party swept to power in November, winning every constitutional office and building on its cushion in the House of Representatives.
Women from both the Democratic and Republican parties made gains in representation, too. Lujan Grisham spent a few moments addressing reproductive rights, a deeply divisive issue.
"Let us show the women of this state that we will not allow faraway federal judges to determine autonomy over their bodies," she told the crowd assembled in the House chambers. "The old criminal abortion law of this state, one of only nine left in the country, must go."
The governor spent much of the speech talking about plans for the state's public education system. Last summer, a judge ordered New Mexico to provide a "sufficient education" to all its students. The edict effectively means the state will have to increase its spending. The governor has proposed doubling the Indian Education Fund and pumping $55 million into bilingual and multicultural programs. It's part of a nearly $500 million increase in her education budget.
"I didn't need to read a judge's order to know that we can do more, we can do better," the governor said. "On this we can all agree: No New Mexico student should ever fall through the cracks."
Republicans sat on their hands for much of the speech, a practice that's become commonplace for both parties when a governor of the opposite political persuasion delivers the State of the State address.
Despite the outward display of political solidarity, Republicans have said they're willing to work with the governor on some issues, including tax reform. For her part, the governor pledged an open ear.
"I recognize that many of you may share my enthusiasm but not my exact roadmap for how we move ahead. I get that. In the sixty days ahead, I promise you this: I will listen as much as I talk," she said, joking that her old tactic of winning money for her Cabinet agencies by not shutting up in committee hearings may not reassure many veteran legislators. "I want to learn from you and incorporate as many of your good ideas into mine, into solid legislation and policymaking for New Mexico."
Democratic leaders are trying something new this session in an effort to make the first few weeks more productive than in sessions past. The so-called rocket docket will offer a single committee hearing in each body for bills that have passed the Legislature before. The governor voiced support for the plan, which begins in earnest tomorrow.