Gov. Martinez calls for capital outlay transparency, reform

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State of the State speech

screenshot from New Mexico In Focus

Gov. Susana Martinez delivers her State of the State speech Tuesday. Behind her are Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, left, and House Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro.

Gov. Susana Martinez called for lawmakers to “require the disclosure of capital outlay allocations” in her State of the State speech Tuesday.

Martinez also called for reform of the capital outlay system.

“We need to fix the way we spend infrastructure money, because the way projects are funded now leads to unmet regional and state needs, and a string of projects that haven’t been vetted and can’t be completed,” she said.

In 2015, the Legislative Council Service denied NMID’s public records request for a list of the final capital outlay allocations made by individual lawmakers,  stating the information was exempt from disclosure. New Mexico In Depth then asked lawmakers to share the capital outlay projects they’ve funded since 2010, but thus far, only 13 lawmakers have provided the information.

Two lawmakers have since filed bills to require disclosure of specifics on capital outlay funding. Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque, is sponsoring Senate Bill 48, while House Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, introduced House Bill 173.

“This is not our money, it’s the people’s money,” Egolf said Tuesday.

Rue provided details on his previous capital outlay projects to NMID, while Egolf has yet to do so. He said Tuesday he plans to share the information.

“I have it, I just haven’t sent it to you,” he said.

NMinDepthNew Mexico is the only state in the nation that allows individual lawmakers to fund specific infrastructure projects, a method one academic said “would be the illustration about how not to do capital improvement planning.”

The individual allocation means some projects aren’t ready to be built – or even requested by local governments. That has contributed to up to $1 billion in unspent infrastructure money.

And NMID’s analysis indicates divvying up the money equally among lawmakers doesn’t necessarily mean infrastructure money is distributed equitably.

Think New Mexico, a nonpartisan think tank, is calling for the Legislature to reform the system more broadly. That group wants an independent commission to recommend infrastructure projects to the Legislature and governor.

New Mexico In Depth sent another email to lawmakers Tuesday, again asking them to reveal their capital outlay project details.

Here is a table with projects from the 13 lawmakers who’ve shared the information thus far. We’ll add more information as we receive it:

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