No pool for you — A look at NM governor’s capital outlay vetoes

By: - March 9, 2022 6:10 pm

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a capital outlay package Wednesday worth more than $820 million, nixing a few projects she said weren’t ready to be built yet. (Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor)

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday approved the spending of more than $820 million on construction projects across the state, things like acequia improvements, new housing and upgrades to municipal buildings.

The new spending includes:

  • $393 million for state projects, including $75 million for maintenance and repair of school buildings
  • $60 million for tribal projects
  • $114 million for public safety 
  • $137 million for water and wastewater
  • $46 million for roads
  • $19 million for behavioral health
  • $17 million for housing

She also vetoed $4.6 million in projects approved by lawmakers during this year’s legislative session. That money would have gone to about 25 projects.

This year, state, tribal and local governments requested more than 2,300 projects across the state, totaling about $5 billion. By the end of the legislative session, lawmakers approved a bill with 1,327 projects that would have cost taxpayers $827 million. 

Lawmakers approved $46 million for new housing projects across New Mexico

In a message explaining her veto choices, Lujan Grisham said several projects “lack proper planning or are not ready to proceed.” She also said the capital outlay process should not be used for smaller projects, saying local governments shouldn’t rely on state funds for appropriations less than $10,000. 

In some instances, other funding sources are available for vetoed projects,” Lujan Grisham wrote in her veto message. “If those funds are insufficient for the vetoed projects and the need is dire, I encourage the legislative sponsors to contact me.”

The biggest line-item veto is for $1.115 for a swimming pool in Cibola County. 

Sunland Park also won’t be getting $1 million toward a municipal complex, plazas, indoor pool, recreation center and sports center.

In addition to nixing some new construction projects, the governor also used her pen to cross off individual items. For example, the Flamenco Institute is getting $145,000 for equipment, but the governor deleted “instruments” and “costumes” from the bill’s language. Also, the Northern New Mexico College in Española is getting $150,000 for equipment, but “farm tools” and “portable bathrooms” are crossed out. 

Lujan Grisham didn’t explain why she crossed out those particular items, but she said in her veto message that generally, she vetoed parts of new spending projects to remove “unnecessarily restrictive language.”

See a list of vetoes below: 

$1,115,000 for swimming pool in Cibola County

$1,000,000 for municipal complex, plazas, natatorium, recreation center, amphitheater, sports complex in Sunland Park in Dona Ana County

$430,000 for Fabian Garcia Science Center at New Mexico State University

$375,000 for KENW TV at ENMU

$300,000 plan and design parks in Grants

$245,500 for improvements to Grants recreation center

$235,000 for student housing facilities at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque

$150,000 to buy 721 Mechem Drive, known as the Sierra Mall, for the Ruidoso campus of ENMU

$150,000 to construct a memorial sculpture to New Mexican miners at NM Tech

$100,000 for wastewater system improvements for Silver City golf course

$100,000 for Fort Bayard New Deal theater in Santa Clara in Grant County

$100,000 for bridge and road improvements to Moquino Road in Seboyeta in Cibola County

$80,000 for feasibility study improving emergency medical services in Colfax county

$60,000 for a  feasibility study for a makerspace at Central New Mexico Community College

$50,000 for finance management and records management in Bernalillo in Sandoval CountyOn page 203, on line 16, I have vetoed the word “in” and on line 17, I have vetoed the words “county commission district 5”.

$50,000 for connectivity at remote sites at Eastern New Mexico University

$50,000 to buy and install lockers for junior wrestling program at Santa Fe public schools

$50,000 for Poole Open Space in Bernalillo County

$25,000 for trades and applied tech facilities projects at CNM in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties

$6,500 water, sewer and backflow prevention at Talpa Community Center in Taos County

$6,000 to purchase an enclosure for an excavator in Taos County

$4,000 to purchase and install digital touch screens and classroom presentation boards at Bellehaven Elementary school in Albuquerque

$2,900 for seating and lighting in Roy veterans’ park in Harding County

Total: $4,684,900

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Patrick Lohmann
Patrick Lohmann

Patrick Lohmann has been a reporter since 2007, when he wrote stories for $15 apiece at a now-defunct tabloid in Gallup, his hometown. Since then, he's worked at UNM's Daily Lobo, the Albuquerque Journal and the Syracuse Post-Standard.