Monday, September 12, 2011
NM Dem Senators Say Martinez's Proposal to Fund Unemployment Benefits is Risky Business for Citizens
According to a statement released by Democratic Senators in the New Mexico Legislature, Governor Susana Martinez's proposal to transfer $130 million out of state reserves to prop up the Unemployment Insurance Fund (Fund) could jeopardize the business community, teachers, the state's most vulnerable citizens, public employees and the state's bond rating. During January's legislative session, the Governor used her line-item veto to kill a bi-partisan, business-supported bill that would have provided additional money to the Fund to prevent its insolvency.
"Rather than admit her veto was misguided and will actually hurt businesses, the Governor is now trying to take money from the state's cash reserves. Dipping into our savings has to be the last resort. It makes no sense to take money from the reserves when the compromise reached during the regular session is still a viable option," said Senator John Sapien (D-Sandoval-9).
"Paying a slight increase in the employer's share as part of the cost of doing business to guarantee solvency is more acceptable than paying almost twice as much if the Fund becomes insolvent," said Senator George Munoz (D-Cibola, McKinley-4). "It is unfortunate that the Governor refused to accept the compromise reached by those most directly affected. The veto was detrimental to business," he added.
Senator John Arthur Smith (D-Hidalgo, Luna, Sierra 35) explained, "There are many unpaid bills that we have to take care of, including the Medicaid shortfall of $100 million, and the loss of nearly $40 million in Tobacco Settlement funding. Also, the revenue projections for the current fiscal year could be off by as much as $55 million. By adding the Governor's proposal to shore up the Fund, the State's reserves may be down to nearly 3.9%. Anything below 5% could negatively impact the State's bond rating."
"If our reserves go below 5%, teachers and public employees will have to wait at least another year to have their wages reinstated to levels from 3 years ago," said Senator Howie Morales (D-Catron, Grant, Socorro-28). "Using money from the reserves will also mean less money will be available to help many New Mexicans dependent on state programs for their most basic needs. I cannot support a proposal that will negatively impact those least able to afford it," he added.