Friday, October 2, 2009

Speaker: Budget Decisions Not Yet Made

I just got this e-mail from House Speaker Ben Lujan referring to two senators who " independently and prematurely" talked about budget cuts.

I'm assuming that one of these is Senate President Pro-tem Tim Jennings, who yesterday distributed an "Open Letter to the Citizens of New Mexico" warning of the need for big spending cuts.

I'm not sure who the other senator is, but I put in a call to try to find out. I'll update when I do.

Here's the Speaker's e-mail:

I am deeply disappointed that two high ranking members of the Senate independently and prematurely communicated information pertaining to budget cuts that does not represent the position or the views of the legislature as a collective body. The letter has caused widespread panic. This is not the kind of leadership our citizens deserve nor should they expect from us on such complex and sensitive issues that affect all of us.

The budget issues we face are monumental and will require our collective sacrifice to resolve this unprecedented set of circumstances. As a legislative body, we have not yet reached a consensus as to how we will overcome the revenue shortfalls. These matters require very principled, prudent and diligent considerations because it will further impact so many already hurting from the economic conditions not seen since the depression. These times require thoughtful and compassionate leadership.

The work group representing the House, the Senate and the Executive are making strong efforts to develop recommendations for our collective consideration. They are still negotiating strategies to address these matters. Once the parameters are defined, these considerations will be thoroughly discussed in our respective caucuses before moving forward to a special session. As a result, neither the Senate as an entire body, nor the House, has fully deliberated on a specific course of action. We are not yet at that juncture.

Therefore, the information communicated by the two senators creating the perception that this is the collective position of the legislature is unfair and disrespectful to all members of the legislature. It is unfortunate that they chose to communicate such information that has triggered such a widespread panic. Before we get to that point, it is my intent to make this a deliberative process with expectations that stakeholders will be a significant part of the discourse in this process and that we will all work together to respond to these challenges.