SANTA FE, N.M. — The Latest on plans for a special legislative session in New Mexico (all times local):
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has issued a formal proclamation to convene a special session of the legislature on Friday at noon.
The notification Thursday to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office sets in motion a legislative session already announced by the governor. It provides a rough agenda for attempts to balance the state budget for the current and last fiscal years and describes criminal sentencing proposals, including the reinstatement of the death penalty.
The proclamation also initiates a suspension of political fundraising by legislators or candidates for the state Legislature that lasts until the session is adjourned. The entire Legislature is up for re-election in November. It is unclear how long the session may last.
A leading Republican budget negotiator in the New Mexico House of Representatives says he expects the state’s budget shortfall can be addressed without staff layoffs or other major disruptions to government operations.
Rep. Larry Larranaga of Albuquerque on Thursday described the state’s budget shortfall as serious but not a crisis as lawmakers prepare for a special session on Friday.
The chairman of the House appropriations and finance committee says most House Republicans have set a high priority on preserving funding for public safety, protective services for children and Medicaid health care.
He says potential funding cuts to public education spending would be focused on administrative areas and designed not to affect teachers.
The Democratic majority floor leader of the New Mexico Senate says allied lawmakers are focused on resolving the state’s budget crisis and that criminal justice initiatives backed by the state’s Republican governor can wait.
Sen. Michael Sanchez of Belen said Thursday that Senate Democrats are hoping to close tax loopholes to increase state revenues and avoid significant cuts to government programs and services during a special legislative session.
Gov. Susana Martinez plans to reconvene the Legislature on Friday to try and plug a budget shortfall linked to a downturn in energy markets and push for a vote on reinstating the death penalty for some crimes and tougher sentencing laws for violent crimes.
Sanchez says all other issues beyond the budget shortfall can wait until a regular legislative session in January.