SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Office of the Governor has announced that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will call the legislature into a special session at noon on Monday, Dec. 6 in order to finalize and approve new legislative district maps. The approval of the maps is required once each decade by the New Mexico constitution. The governor also added to the agenda appropriating federal COVID relief funding.
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On Thursday lawmakers accused the governor of violating a state supreme court order by continuing to take money from the remaining $1.1 allocated to New Mexico through the American Rescue Plan Act. “I am shocked over what appears to be either intention noncompliance with the court’s order or simply gross negligence of not taking even the simplest of steps to ensure compliance and to prevent the unconstitutional spending of these funds,” said Sen. Jacob Candelaria, a Democrat from District 26.
It’s been an ugly battle between lawmakers and the governor on how to spend the federal money. Two weeks ago, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in favor of lawmakers. KRQE News 13 spoke to the state treasurer who said Lujan Grisham paid a $269,000 invoice with the federal money which appears to violate the supreme court order.
In a statement from House Republican Jim Townsend: “This administration, as directed by her, has grabbed power and ignored the constitution, apparently caring little about the rule of law.”
The governor’s office fired back saying the money was for services rendered and was obligated before the supreme court issued its stay. A spokesperson said in a statement, the department of finance and administration informed the state treasure Wednesday that it would immediately put the money back.
The governor went on to say in part “my administration’s working relationship with the legislature has been incredibly productive for several years.” She went on to say “I am sure that lawmakers will deliver this massively important federal funding to New Mexicans in a strategic and meaningful way.
Full Statement from Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Office:
“The money at issue was for services rendered and was obligated before the Supreme Court issued its stay. The Department of Finance and Administration informed the state treasurer yesterday [Wednesday] that it would immediately redeposit the funds, which it has done.”
Statement from House Republican Leader Jim Townsend:
“It is not a surprise that Michelle Lujan Grisham would ignore the Supreme Court’s decision when they ruled against her, it’s similar to a child who doesn’t get their way. This administration, as directed by her, has unilaterally grabbed power and ignored the Constitution, apparently caring little about the rule of law. For 632 long days, she has sidelined the people’s Representatives and Senators in favor of a near dictatorship that excludes even her colleague Democrat leaders, spending money willy-nilly. We hear more and more whispers in backrooms about the damage she is doing within her party and see the damage done to our state. Hopefully a few more Democrats will stand for the people instead of bending to her will. Also, she definitely needs to pay the people back for this malfeasance in handling emergency COVID relief.”