Gov. Susana Martinez on Wednesday signed two bills from the recent special session of the Legislature aimed at balancing the state budget.
She also made her first line-item veto from the session, cutting the words “to support home visiting services” from an amendment that provided $1.5 million to the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department “to support home visiting services for the prevention of child abuse.”
In other words, Martinez left the new $1.5 million appropriation for CYFD in place, and the requirement that it be spent to prevent child abuse, but she wiped out the Legislature’s intent that the money be spent specifically on home-visiting services, which teach parenting skills and provide other support for pregnant mothers and new parents and guardians.
The language Martinez vetoed “is too narrowly drafted as it excludes all child abuse prevention initiatives except home visiting services,” she wrote in her message to the Legislature explaining the decision.
The sponsor of the amendment to Senate Bill 6 that designed the funding for home visiting, Rep. Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque, wasn’t pleased. He wrote in a Facebook post that home visiting is “the best child abuse prevention tool available.”
“The amendment was unanimously supported by ALL members of the Legislature, Rep. Martínez wrote. “This Governor’s petty politics are disappointing, to say the least.”
Rep. Martínez has championed an expansion of home-visiting services, which his family has utilized, for years. Experts say such services help prevent child abuse and neglect.
SB 6, the rest of which Gov. Martinez signed into law on Wednesday, was aimed primarily at closing several tax loopholes to save the state millions each year.
Martinez also signed Senate Bill 2, which takes $220 million in settlement money from tobacco companies to help balance the budget.
The governor has already signed two special-session bills — Senate Bill 4, which directs $25 million in severance tax bonds school costs, and Senate Bill 7, which halts transfers from the state’s general fund to two other accounts.
Martinez has yet to act on three bills:
- Senate Bill 9, which would cut funding for most state agencies and higher education by 5 percent.
- Senate Bill 8, which would transfer almost $90 million in capital outlay funding away from already-designated projects to help plug the budget hole.
- Senate Bill 12, which would appropriate $157,400 to pay for the seven-day special session.