Staving off a breakdown in the state justice system, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez signed a bill Thursday to provide short-term funding for New Mexico’s courts.
Sanchez was acting as the state’s chief executive while Gov. Susana Martinez traveled to Washington, D.C., for meetings of the National Governors Association and Republican Governors Association.
Sanchez’s signing of House Bill 261 ends a battle over the judiciary’s budget that had dragged through the 60-day legislative session.
The bill includes $1.6 million to pay for jury trials through the end of the fiscal year in June and $80,000 to avoid furloughs at the state Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Charles Daniels had warned that, without the money, courts around the state would be unable to afford trials by March 1.
But when Democrats in the Senate attached the court funding two unrelated bills, Martinez vetoed each measure. Martinez suggested that her administration needed to adequately vet the judiciary’s request. The Republican-sponsored bill that Sanchez signed includes about the same amount of money the courts had been requesting for months.
With the Legislature in session, the governor only had three days to act on the bill. Enter Sanchez, who is acting as governor while Martinez is in Washington.
Martinez is scheduled to attend a meeting at the White House with governors from around the country and join other governors in meeting with Tom Price, secretary of the Health and Human Services Department. The Republican Governors Association is paying for her travel.
This article comes from The Santa Fe New Mexican. NMPolitics.net is paying for the rights to publish articles about the 2017 legislative session from the newspaper. Help us cover the cost by making a donation to NMPolitics.net.