Announcing budget cuts, ethics reforms, public and highway safety initiatives and clean energy incentives, Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson asked lawmakers to support a laundry list of new proposals in his Jan. 19 state of the state address.
To balance the budget, Richardson proposed a total of $510 million in spending cuts, including at least $25 million in savings from consolidating agencies, boards and commissions with overlapping functions.
On the revenue side, Richardson said he would support only a temporary sales tax increase that would expire in three years or less.
Expanding on existing efforts to reform politics in New Mexico, Richardson proposed a permanent citizen-led ethics commission and new rules, including whistleblower protections for state employees, political contribution disclosures by state government contractors and bans candidates from making taxpayer-funded public service announcements.
Richardson also proposed tougher laws against drunk driving, domestic violence and gang violence, and he called for a ban on hand-held cell phone use for talking or texting while driving.
Touting progress in making New Mexico the "Clean Energy State," Richardson asked the Democratic-controlled Legislature to double tax incentives for solar energy producers, crack down on air polluters, enable coal companies to launch carbon storage projects and create a cap-and-trade bill aimed at reducing pollution and rewarding efficiency.
In other issues, Richardson asked lawmakers to extend the state's domestic partnership law to give more rights and protections to same-sex couples, reform property tax laws that he said unfairly burden homeowners and commit 5 percent of annual severance tax bonds to a fund for tribal infrastructure projects.