SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Wednesday, legislators took a step towards funding infrastructure projects across the state. Overall, politicians on both sides of the political aisle are happy with many of the projects, but one has been a sticking point.
That sticking point? A proposed $10 million reproductive healthcare facility in Doña Ana County. That’s something the Governor has promised, but now legislators are split on the idea.
Each year, the Governor and legislators get money they can put towards projects around the state in a process called capital outlay. This year, the Governor is looking to put some funds towards a facility slated to be some sort of partnership with medical schools and private healthcare providers, according to the Associated Press. Republican legislators, however, have called the project a “poison pill” in the yearly capital outlay bill.
“It’s tough to see such a divisive issue inserted into something that is traditionally unanimous,” Sen. Gregg Schmedes (R-Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe & Torrance) said on the Senate floor Wednesday, March 15.
Some legislators argued that state funds shouldn’t be put towards a clinic that could provide abortion services. “We don’t need a government-sponsored abortion clinic, a government-sponsored anti-reductive reproduction clinic,” Sen. William E. Sharer (R-San Juan) said.
Others argued that apart from the debate over abortion, the Governor should have approached the project in a separate bill or with more transparency. Sen. Craig W. Brandt (R-Sandoval) took issue with the fact that so far, the project doesn’t have a lot of details worked out, including an agency chosen to oversee the project. Sen. Nancy Rodriguez (D-Santa Fe) says that’s acceptable at this stage of the process.
“At this point, as we’re approving these capital outlay allocations, we don’t have a fiscal agent until it’s approved because nothing is final until it gets done,” Sen. Nancy Rodriguez (D-Santa Fe) said. But Brandt argued that he’s always been under the impression that a project needed a designated fiscal agent before making it onto the bill.
“The fact of the matter is you’re putting a different set of rules in place for the Governor than you put in for the rest of us,” Brandt said.
Sen. Crystal R. Diamond (R-Doña Ana, Hidalgo, Luna & Sierra) took issue with the fact that the bill doesn’t include more funding for much-needed projects in Sierra County. She pointed to recent news about leaking infrastructure in Truth or Consequences as the type of issue that should be addressed with state funding.
Despite more debate than usual over the capital outlay bill, the majority of the Senate voted to pass the bill. Now, it heads to the Governor’s desk. In total, the bill would put more than $200 million towards projects in Bernalillo County alone.