SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The state treasurer is siding with the legislature, not the governor, in the fight over who has the power to spend federal COVID-19 relief money. The governor vetoed the money, earmarked by the legislature, during the last session saying she alone had the power to decide where the money would be used.
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However, legislators including those in her own party argue that violates the Constitution and takes power away from the people. State Senators Greg Baca, a Republican, and Democrat Jacob Candelaria filed a lawsuit. On Wednesday, State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg, a Democrat issued his response siding with the legislature.
While the Supreme Court will ultimately decide the outcome, the senators say this is encouraging. “This is not a question of political allegiance, this is not a question of partisan politics, this is fundamentally a question of doing the right thing, our constitution requires the legislature appropriate public money so that the public can be involved,” said Sen. Candelaria (District 26).
“We sure hope the executive will actually come to a realization that this is obvious in this case, it’s not even a fight to see it some other way is really ludicrous under our own constitution, our state statues and standing case laws set by state Supreme Court,” said Sen. Baca (District 29).
The governor has until Friday to file a response. Her office responded to a request for comment saying:
“Courts have previously made clear the legislature may appropriate state, not federal funds. We have no further comment on pending legislation and the Lujan Grisham administration looks forward to continuing to provide ongoing support for economic rejuvenation through the state.”