As part of her state government house cleaning, Gov. Susana Martinez has kicked out the appointed members of the New Mexico Labor and Industrial Commission and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority Board of Directors, her office said.
She also removed Johnny Cope from his position on the State Transportation Commission, saying "It’s time to restore accountability to the Transportation Commission. As a body that has exceptional control over the use of taxpayer money, the potential for abuse is equally great. If we hope to restore the public’s trust in government, we must guarantee that public servants are held to the highest standard as responsible stewards of taxpayer money."
As for the industrial commission, Martinez said, "Given the issues coming before the commission, it is absolutely necessary that all sides have a say in the decision-making process. My administration is committed to leading by example when it comes to cutting spending and I believe that new leadership at the commission is needed to ensure the responsible use of taxpayer money."
Martinez also wants a new direction for the Spaceport Commission.
"There’s no question that the Spaceport can bring jobs to New Mexico, but long-term success will require the right leadership. Given its significant costs, I believe that developing the Spaceport to its full potential requires more robust private investment and new leadership to make necessary adjustments," she said. "With more than half of construction costs coming from state funds, we must explore ways to ease the significant financial commitment that taxpayers have made in this project.”
Expect more removals in the coming days.
While she removes some people, Martinez has appointed two new people to the state Legislature. Bill Burt of Alamogordo will take Dianna Duran's old seat while Bob Wooley of Roswell will serve in Keith Gardner's previous spot.
And, speaking of commissions, I just got this email from the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women, who apparently don't like Martinez' plan to eliminate the commission completely.
The commission's chairwoman, LaNelle Witt, said the group was caught off guard by the proposal, in part because it had just convinced lawmakers on a government restructuring task force to vote to keep the commission.
"Just as we began to catch our breath, we received unexpected news. On January 10th, Governor Susan Martinez recommended to eliminate 100 % of the Commission’s budget for Fiscal Year 2012, potentially shutting down the 37 year-old agency’s doors on June 30, 2011. Needless to say, this was completely unexpected. Over 51% of New Mexico’s population is women and girls. The recommendation to de-fund the State’s woman’s agency is historic on several levels."
Witt says the commission's budget is now just $598,000 and has a staff of seven and eliminating it wouldn't help the state's multi-million deficit.
Stay tuned on this fight as the session revs up.