Counties, legislature may challenge line-item vetoes

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State > Lawmakers question constitutionality of SB 268

By Arin McKenna

It was obvious at the New Mexico Association of Counties (NMAC) legislative update — held at Fuller Lodge Wednesday — that it is not “end of story” for Senate Bill 268.
According to state law, counties are allowed to assess a one-eighth Gross Receipts Tax increment for healthcare costs. SB268 redirects one-twelfth of that increment to the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) to pay for hospitals and matching funds for Medicaid.
The redirect impacts the counties’ abilities to cover local costs such as indigent healthcare and mandated services such as ambulance.
At Wednesday’s meeting, state senators and New Mexico county officials alike expressed concerns not only about the bill’s impact on local governments, but about Gov. Susana Martinez’s line-item vetoes of the legislation.
One of the bill’s sponsors, state Sen. Nancy Rodriguez (D-Santa Fe) raised several issues, including a question of whether the bill is constitutional, since it forces the counties to redirect money approved by voters away from local governments into state coffers without any accountability.

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