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Repairs and improvements are underway at the flood-control pond on South Hill Road in Bernalillo. Heavy runoff in 2013 flowing down Cañon del Agua and under Interstate 25 damaged the pond and an acequia as it flooded a nearby neighborhood. A Town of Bernalillo project expected to start later this year will add storm sewers to South Hill Road and connect the pond to another ponding area and drainage.
Photo credit: —Bill Diven

Money flows as state spending bill revived

—Signpost Staff

The death of a bill in the Legislature may not be final, and so it was with a $295 million dollar spending package loaded with goodies for every county that sprang back to life after seemingly breathing its last.

Known as the capital outlay bill, the package includes projects and purchases large and small. In the case of Sandoval County, that meant $5.5 million dollars for everything from three thousand dollars in equipment for the Cañon water association to $609,000 dollars to buy right-of-way for a proposed highway connection from Rio Rancho to Interstate 40.

The bill appeared dead not once, but twice: first when the Legislature adjourned in March amid partisan finger-pointing over why, what at the time was, a $264 million dollar bill didn’t pass. And a second time in May when Governor Susana Martinez said she wouldn’t call a special session after negotiations broke down.

So, after closed-door meetings of legislative leaders and the governor’s staff, and sweetening the pot by $31 million dollars, mostly for highway projects, a special session on June 8 settled everything in barely four hours.

The original bill died, in part, because Republicans wanted to borrow the $41 million dollars it contained for road projects while Democrats wanted to tap cash reserves and raise the gas tax. In the end, they did both.

During the brief special session legislators also approved (and the governor later signed):

  • A package of tax breaks affecting among others trade-support groups in border zones, research-and-development companies contracting with the Department of Defense and multistate companies headquartered in New Mexico. The bill extended deductions for unreimbursed medical expenses, but a last-minute attempt to continue a tax credit for installing solar power failed.
  • Emergency funding of three hundred thousand dollars for the Administrative Office of the Courts and four million dollars for the Department of Health to get the agencies through the end of the current fiscal year ending June 30.

Along the way, subtle changes crept into the capital projects, and the amount of money dedicated to Sandoval County grew by about $145,000 dollars. And that’s after Martinez vetoed $25,000 dollars for a tribal court building at Zia Pueblo and $45,000 dollars to help the San Ysidro water association pay back a loan.

Those additions include $113,800 dollars for vehicles and equipment at the county senior center to be built in Bernalillo and $96,900 dollars for equipment and improvements at senior centers and meal sites in Placitas, Corrales, Rio Rancho, and Santo Domingo Pueblo.

Carried over from the original package are two hundred thousand dollars that Bernalillo has been seeking for years for a second water line across the Rio Grande connecting the two parts of the town, $125,000 dollars for a wellness and multipurpose center at San Felipe Pueblo, two hundred thousand dollars for a fire department water tender and engine in Corrales and $135,000 dollars for parks and baseball fields in Bernalillo.

Money for all the projects comes from the sale of severance tax bonds, which are paid back from fees and royalties assessed on the state’s extractive industries: oil, gas, and mining. It’s not yet clear when the money will become available, since the political delay pushed the process of selling the bonds past its usual May deadline.

 
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