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Who won, who lost in 2018 legislative session

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By Special to the Monitor

Winners

College students: The New Mexico Lottery’s staff and various legislators wanted to rewrite state law to eliminate the requirement that 30 percent of gross revenue from the lottery go for college scholarships.

Lottery employees and their lobbyists said the proposed change, combined with more prizes, would someday funnel even more money to the scholarship fund. Opponents of the measure countered that students would be shortchanged for years and maybe forever.

House members heavily amended the bill to guarantee students at least $40 million a year for scholarships. That bill died, but the 30 percent requirement for scholarships remains intact – a good outcome for students trying to get a degree without accumulating debt from loans.

Think New Mexico: The Santa Fe-based policy organization fought the lottery staff’s proposal all through the session.

Spaceport America: Just a few years ago, some lawmakers were calling it a boondoggle. This year, it got $10 million to build a hangar, a boost in its operating budget and exceptions from the state’s open records law.

Public employees: State and public school employees get a 2 percent pay raise. Teachers get 2.5 percent and state police officers get 8.5 percent.

Raúl Torrez: Albuquerque’s second-year district attorney gets a big boost to his budget – far bigger than that provided to any other state prosecutor.

Some legislators say that has stirred grumbling elsewhere in the state, given that some communities outside New Mexico’s largest city have even higher crime rates.

Los Alamos County: The Legislature approved Senate Bill 17, which allows the state to collect gross receipts taxes from nonprofits that operate government laboratories.

Carlsbad: Lawmakers may have had plenty of heartburn about restoring $41 million cut from schools last year but they did not fight too hard over pouring tens of millions of dollars into a hole.

Losers

Elected state officials: The Legislature approved Senate Bill 176, which would give pay 10 percent raises to the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer land commissioner and public regulation commissioners who win this year’s election.

Republican Susana Martinez, says she will veto this bill.
Advocates of early childhood education: They pushed hard to get a constitutional amendment through the House of

Representatives that would tap the $16 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund to expand early childhood programs. But the measure died in the Senate Finance Committee when the chairman, Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, declined to give it a hearing.

Public Service Company of New Mexico: Public Service Company of New Mexico wanted legislation allowing it to sell bonds to recoup losses from the planned closing of the the San Juan Generating Station, an aging coal-burning power plant.

But that plan ended when the Senate Conservation Committee voted to block Senate Bill 47.

San Juan County: After SB 47 stalled, Rep. Rod Montoya, R-Farmington, introduced House Bill 325, which was designed to help a large school district keep most of its tax base if Public Service Company of New Mexico closes the San Juan power plant by 2022.

School boards: Legislators took about $40 million from the reserves of school districts around New Mexico last year to shore up the state’s budget.

Now, with the state’s budget outlook improving, many schools still are not getting back the money.

The Legislature agreed to restore $5 million to districts that had been cut – only about one-eighth of the reserves that were raided last year. And the Legislature agreed to boost public school funding across the board by $10 million.

Lobbyists: The Legislature three years ago passed a lobbyist “reform” bill that included a section that received little, if any discussion.

It ended a requirement that lobbyists report cumulative spending on lawmakers for individual expenditures under $100.