Throwing down the gauntlet?

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By Ralph Damiani

While some say the governor’s actions regarding the statewide capital financing package were not politically motivated, it is really hard not to see that in his veto.

Earlier this week, Gov. Richardson cut $7 million from the bill – cutting only money sought by senators.No House members' projects were touched, according to an AP report.During the session, and especially following it, the governor was very critical of the Senate, calling it a do-nothing body.Given this attitude it is hard to see this as anything but payback.And we can’t but wonder how the vetoes will worsen the relationship between the Democratic governor and the Democrat-dominated Senate just as he's trying to lay the groundwork for this summer's special legislative session.Some Senate leaders said the vetoes were retaliation for not being Richardson's rubber stamp in the just-ended legislative session.The governor's office said the Senate "was more difficult on many issues and, all too often, refused to act.""The governor gave projects sponsored by House members the benefit of the doubt because they were more willing to work in a cooperative manner on behalf of New Mexicans," spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said.Sounds like payback to us.And it can’t sit well.Politicians like to deliver the goods to their constituents and nothing is better back home than a good capital building project. Well, a lot of Senators will have to do a lot of explaining and they won’t be liking that.Richardson has had a tough time with the increasingly independent Senate over the past few years. And he has not liked it.This year, he blamed senators for killing his universal health coverage initiative and other of his proposals.And he has not liked that.It looked like there would be some fence-mending going on as the two sides gathered recently in a meeting described as friendly and productive. The governor and Senate leaders from both sides of the aisle agreed to form working groups to resume a discussion of health care well ahead of the special session.But that “new arrangement” may be in danger.Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, arrived in Santa Fe for a follow-up meeting Wednesday to discover that nearly $300,000 of his projects had been vetoed from the capital outlay bill."The governor sees anybody who dares to have an opinion different from his as the utmost enemy. So he tends to get even," Jennings said.Richardson’s office says this will have no impact on the special session or the negotiations going on with the Senate leaders.We sadly find that hard to believe as both sides dig in their heels.As Wilson Beffort said over the finance panel's reluctance to deal with the governor's health coverage bill, saying the committee should not be expected to "just go along for the ride."That is something the governor wants and is not going to get.