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Mixed signals regarding Richardson

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE — When Gov. Bill Richardson vetoed the food tax, he noted in the first sentence of his veto message that it would be the last legislative act of his two terms as governor.

That sounds pretty final. What does it mean? Is he leaving town for one of those cushy million-dollar jobs we’ve been hearing about? Or is he just not going to call any more special sessions?

The indications I’m getting say it is the latter. Gov. Richardson says he doesn’t want to call any more special sessions while House members are campaigning for office.

Not only is it time away from their businesses and campaigns, legislators are prohibited from soliciting campaign contributions while a legislative session is in progress.

So the governor worked out some provisions with lawmakers in case money runs too short. The immediate problem is getting through this fiscal year, which ends June 30. Next year’s 60-day session can handle next year’s fiscal deficit.

That won’t be easy because that deficit is likely to be awfully big by then and only six months will be left before the end of that fiscal year to make cuts or raise more money.


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