Feb. 20 First News: The State House Completes Work On State Budget (Listen)

Feb 20, 2014

The New Mexico Legislature adjourns at noon today, and the House of Representatives completed the primary task for the 30-day session, approving a more-than six-billion dollar state budget bill Wednesday. The House okayed the proposed spending plan on a 58-8 vote. The measure now goes to Governor Susana Martinez. The legislature's budget represents a five-percent increase from last year.


A Democratic effort to place a proposed constitutional amendment raising New Mexico's minimum wage failed in the State House of Representatives Wednesday on a 33-29 vote with numerous no-votes. The rejection of the proposal followed a lengthy debate in which Republican State Representative Nate Gentry of Albuquerque criticized Democrats for using the constitution to avoid legislating the issue: *****022014-Gentry-1 :13***** The measure had been a Democratic priority, and Democratic Representative Miguel Garcia of Albuquerque argued raising the minimum wage assists businesses as well as workers. *****022014-Garcia-2 :24***** The proposed constitutional amendment would have adjusted the minimum wage for inflation since 2009 — setting it at an estimated eight-dollars-forty cents-hourly starting in July 2015.


A proposed gambling compact that would have allowed the Navajo Nation to open three additional casinos has been rejected by the State Senate. The Senate voted 31-10 against the agreement on Wednesday, which the House had already approved. Other tribes and pueblos were concerned their casinos will lose gamblers if the Navajos expand their gambling venues. Navajo Leader Ben Shelly says the tribe will consider its options, including possible legal action against the state. The compact required approval of the Legislature and the Interior Department to take effect.


The U-S Department of Agriculture has designated Lea County a natural disaster area due to the ongoing drought, making affected farmers and ranchers in the area eligible for federal assistance. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the designation this week , saying he and President Barack Obama are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in the national economy. The designation means farmers and ranchers in the area are eligible for low-interest loans from the USDA.


Santa Fe Weather: Sunny and breezy today, with a high near 39. Gusts will reach as high as 35 mph. It'll be mostly clear tonight, with a low around 20. Tomorrow: Sunny with a high near 50.