Money for new vote-counting machines around New Mexico has been folded into a $122.6 million package of statewide public works projects that members of a House committee were considering late Monday. The $6 million for vote-counting machines, or tabulators, was requested by Secretary of State Dianna Duran and would be the first infusion of cash needed to replace outdated machines used by county clerks statewide. “We would not be able to replace all the machines with that money,” Duran’s chief of staff, Ken Ortiz, said Monday. A revised version of a $122.6 million capital outlay package, House Bill 337, includes 121 public works projects around the state. Here are the five biggest projects by dollar amount: Money for the new vote-counting machines is one of the biggest revisions in the public works – or capital outlay – package that is larger than a previous Democratic-backed package. That $97 million version was held back this month amid concerns from Republican lawmakers that it was being rushed.
Top-ranking Democratic legislators said Monday that they hope the revamped list of projects can steer clear of Gov. Susana Martinez’s veto pen. The governor last year line-item vetoed nearly 200 mostly local, small projects that she described as “wasteful pork.” Those projects amounted to roughly $23 million.
“‘Compromise’ is not a bad word,” said House Speaker Ken Martinez, D-Grants. ” ‘Capital outlay’ … is not a bad word either.”
A spokesman for Gov. Martinez, who has pushed to make changes to the state’s capital outlay system, said the Republican governor worked closely with House Speaker Martinez and other legislative leaders in recent weeks to identify projects aimed at public health and safety needs.
However, Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell said the Governor’s Office had not seen the final project list as of Monday afternoon.
“When the bill makes it to her desk, all of the projects will be evaluated on whether they have been prioritized and vetted, whether the projects are appropriate for bonding and whether they can be completed with the funding allocated,” he said. In addition to the $122.6 million in statewide projects, an additional $100 million in local projects is expected to be added to the package in the Senate. That breaks down to less than $1 million for each of the state’s 112 lawmakers to allocate for projects in his or her district.