Deciding which public works projects to fund, even in a good year, exposes our fault lines — political, rural-urban, and governmental — but it also validates need.
The whittling for this year’s failed capital outlay (pork) bill was more hard-nosed than usual.
From the $200 million-plus hog, the governor asked for $60 million in capital outlay: $45 million for roads and $15 million for the economic development closing fund.
State Bill 159 emerged from the Senate Finance Committee and passed the Senate unanimously. It included $45 million for roads, an attempt to accommodate the governor, and money for local projects of all 42 senators and 33 House Democrats.
But not House Republicans. This is because the Democratic majority in the Senate, the Republican majority in the House, and the governor couldn’t agree.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, has said the state is up to its eyeballs in road debt. He refused to approve any more without a new funding source, namely an increase in fuel taxes.
In committee, some Republicans weren’t opposed, but the governor, positioning herself for the national stage, was adamant.
No new taxes vs. no new debt. Stalemate. When diplomacy fails, manipulation takes its place.