Governor takes credit for surplus brought by oil and gas rebound

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A New Mexico Legacy flyer that hit Albuquerque mailboxes this week

A flyer that reads like an election-campaign ad for Gov. Susana Martinez hit Albuquerque mailboxes this week, praising her no-new-taxes stance throughout eight years, especially during 2017’s state budget crisis.

“Instead of punishing taxpayers with higher taxes, Governor Martinez has cut taxes 37 times, vetoed more than a billion dollars in tax hikes, and cut wasteful government spending. She has put our fiscal house in order the right way. Now the state has a budget surplus of $300 million,” the flyer intones.

It goes on to suggest the governor’s hard anti-tax stance led to thousands of new jobs.

The flyer then hammers home the message in case recipients miss the point: Governor Susana Martinez is leading New Mexico in the right direction.

Not to split hairs, but a  spike in oil prices and a rebound in the state’s oil and gas industry is the reason for this year’s budget surplus and the thousands of new jobs. And Martinez’s legacy is a much-debated issue around the Roundhouse and among New Mexico’s politicos.   

Paid for by New Mexico Legacy, a nonprofit organization in Albuquerque, the purpose of the flyer is unknown. Martinez isn’t running for re-election and she’s out of office once her successor is chosen by voters in the November election.

However, the timing is curious. With days to go in the 30-day legislative session, state lawmakers are considering amendments from her office to a proposed $6.3 billion state budget.

A New Mexico Legacy flyer that hit Albuquerque mailboxes this week

As of mid week, those amendments included different ways at paying for funding increases at various agencies than those proposed in the state budget passed by the House of Representatives last week. The funding includes increased pay for state judges, state police, correctional officers, district attorneys and public defenders.

Then there’s her popularity. Martinez recently ranked as the fifth-least popular governor across the nation, with a 57 percent disapproval rating, according to a national survey taken in the final quarter of 2017.  

Around the Roundhouse, there’s varying opinions as to the flyer’s significance but no certainty. Maybe it’s a harbinger of this year’s election when voters will choose Martinez’s successor and elect the next slate of lawmakers in the state House of Representatives. Or perhaps it’s promotional in nature, an attempt  to beef up her resume as she looks for a new job, although she has said she isn’t thinking that far ahead.  

No one seems to know and the folks from New Mexico Legacy aren’t saying.

Rob Doughty, the president of the University of New Mexico Board of Regents, and Jessica Perez, who served as finance director for Martinez’s re-election campaign in 2014, did not return phone calls seeking answers about the flyer’s purpose and how much it cost.

Doughty, Perez and Amy Orlando,  whom Martinez picked to succeed her as the District Attorney for the Third Judicial District in Las Cruces after Martinez became governor, are listed as New Mexico Legacy’s directors, according to the Corporations and Business Services division of the Secretary of State’s office.

Jay McCleskey, Martinez’s go-to political consultant for eight years, also didn’t have much to say. New Mexico Legacy’s business address is the same as McCleskey Media Strategies, which McCleskey owns.

NMID asked McCleskey twice Friday at the Roundhouse what he knew about the flyer.

He promised to get into contact with the board and get back to NMID.

As of Saturday afternoon, NMID had not heard back from Doughty, Perez or McCleskey.