SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Friday that there will be a special session called to provide economic relief. Legislators will also consider a revised supplemental junior spending bill. The governor and legislators worked to agree on parameters for a revised bill and to make sure projects are appropriately budgeted as recurring or non-recurring funding.
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Another topic on the agenda is the potential for a fuel rebate to provide relief as gas prices rise. The special session is scheduled to begin on April 5. However, as lawmakers will head back to the Roundhouse for a the special session, not everyone is for it.
One of the topics on the agenda this session is the potential for a fuel rebate to provide relief to drivers as gas prices soar. But some Republicans, like Rep. Rob Montoya of San Juan County say it’s a stark contrast to the regular session which wrapped just last month.
“Literally the last day of the session, Democrats were trying to pass a gas tax increase of 50 cents,” said Montoya. “We might want to call this the governor reelection session.”
Democrat Sen. George Munoz says the rebate is a better option than removing a gas tax to ease the burden. He’s proposing a rebate of up to $300 for single tax filers and $600 for joint filers.
“A rebate is a better option to go with just because of the structure of our gas tax,” said Munoz. “It really makes it meaningful that we do care and we want to offset some of those costs.”
Another focus this special session is a revisit of the junior spending bill which was vetoed by the governor. Lawmakers on both sides argue the projects laid out in the bill — many of them tailored to community needs — were all properly vetted before it passed unanimously by both the House and Senate.
“People want transparency,” said Munoz. “This is the way you have a transparent budget is you do it out in the open.”
Democrat Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill says this is another chance to move forward with the money for those needed projects. However, she says she recognizes lawmakers and the governor won’t always agree.
“We’ve had extensive conversations with the leadership and the executive branch so I really feel there’s a good possibility of moving forward successfully,” said Correa Hemphill. “We’re not always going to agree on the best way forward but having open conversations about what is best for our constituents, what’s best for our communities that we represent.”
The governor’s special session announcement comes just days after lawmakers proposed bringing themselves back for an extraordinary session following the spending veto.
The governor issued this statement:
“As prices remain high nationwide, it is clear that we must act swiftly to deliver more relief to New Mexicans. Across the state, families are facing hard choices: can they afford to take their kids to school, to drive to work, to buy baby formula. It is our responsibility to do what we can to ease that burden. In this time of global and economic instability, we are taking action as one state government to protect New Mexicans’ paychecks and deliver additional relief and financial security.
My administration has worked with this Legislature and Democratic leadership to great success, joining efforts to solve problems and deliver critical support and investments for New Mexicans, including half a billion dollars in tax relief this year alone. I look forward to continuing our work to deliver pragmatic and productive solutions that benefit New Mexicans, and I appreciate the Legislature’s agreement in prioritizing transparency and accountability in this and future sessions.”-Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham