Thumbs: Our high country lowdown on the news - Jan. 18, 2013

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By Optic Editorial Board

THUMBS UP! AND THEY’RE OFF. Consider this thumb the result of cautious optimism that the legislative session, which started this week, will be a productive one, with the governor keeping a tight grip on spending while lawmakers make good decisions that benefit New Mexicans. With Congress as an example of how not to govern, we’re hoping to see the betterment of the state trumping partisan politics —but that will be up to the players in Santa Fe.

THUMBS UP! BOWED OUT WITH CLASS. When it was clear that Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, had the votes to be the next president pro tem of the Senate, Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, stepped aside for the sake of unity. Campos had won the nomination at the Democrats’ caucus in December, but Papen built a bipartisan support base that led to her election.
We would have liked to see Campos get the job, but politics being what it is, it wasn’t to be. We respect his willingness to circumvent an internal fight so early in the session.

THUMBS UP! LEVEL-HEADED LEADERSHIP. Nicolas Leger has been re-elected chair and Ron Ortega vice chair of the San Miguel County Commission. Both have served in their respective positions for a year now, and done well in representing the interests of the citizenry. We’re glad to see them retaining their leadership roles.

THUMBS DOWN! STILL STRAPPED. Las Vegas City Schools district officials are anticipating a $1.37 million shortfall in the current budget year, forcing them to request emergency supplemental funding from the state to offset the shortage. The district applied for the funds last June but the process requires a mid-year review to confirm that the need still exists.
Superintendent Sheryl McNellis-Martinez had previously said that late audits and unrecovered reimbursement requests from the federal government were the cause. No word yet on what the two biggest cost-saving measures this school year — the four-day school week and employee furloughs — had on the budget, but it appears they didn’t do much to offset the shortfall, the projection was for a $1.2 million deficit.

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“No governor ever expects to get everything they ask for. Not even when you have a Democrat governor and a Democrat majority in the Legislature do you get everything you want. ... So as a Republican governor and a Democrat Legislature, I don’t expect to. But I do expect to continue to have meetings, to continue to have negotiations with them and advocate for my positions as they will theirs.”
— Gov. Susana Martinez, at the onset of the 2013 legislative session.