NM Legislature: Las Crucen elected President Pro-Tem, Governor talks economy
POSTED: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 6:35pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 6:38pm
Santa Fe, NM — A big day in Santa Fe as legislators opened up a brand new 60-day session at the roundhouse.
New leadership was voted in just before Governor Susana Martinez was set to give her State of the State speech.
New Mexico Senators unanimously chose Democratic Senator Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces to lead the legislatures upper house.
She is the first woman elected President Pro-Tem of the body and replaces Tim Jennings of Roswell.
The house elected Rep. Ken Martinez, (D) Grants, as speaker of the house. He succeeds Ben Lujan who died in December after a battle with cancer.
In her State of the state Address, Martinez focused on competition and education.
"With a federal government that is so far in debt, so dysfunctional, we'd be forced to leave our state economy at the mercy of the next fiscal cliff in Washington," Martinez said.
The governor's speech focused on making New Mexico more competitive with surrounding states.
She's proposing job-creation tax breaks for small businesses and to cut the state's corporate tax rate.
She also wants lawmakers to pass several different education reforms including improving literacy education for elementary school kids.
The governor's continued fight to get rid of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants only got a brief mention.
Democrats responded a short time later saying they'll fight for education reform as well plus raises for state workers, something the governor opposes.
But they emphasized helping the state's economy should come from helping the middle class, not giving businesses a break.
"A comprehensive approach to putting people back to work must focus on the majority of everyday New Mexicans who have not and will not benefit corporate tax breaks or corporate tax loopholes," Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, told reporters.