Yesterday I took the RailRunner up to Santa Fe to watch the opening of the state legislator’s special session. The train was an 1½ late but the session did not start until closer to 4:00 pm and was over by 5:00 pm so no harm came from being late for the start. The legislators showed up at 9:00 am and were in meetings until the last minute working on how to deal with the budget.
I chose to attend the state senate side because they are the ones best know for being the more conservative body. Senator Tim Jennings was wasting time cutting jokes on the floor along with the republicans. They were making fun of how to cut the budget and not taking the matter before them very serious. State Senator Cisco McSorley at one point wanted to charge the senate committee on committees for use of the senate finance committee meeting room to hold public hearings on the bills place before the senate yesterday. He was giving Jennings as good as he got. He was pointing out that there was a need to raise income so as not to harm vital programs such as Medicaid and education in this state.
Today at 1:00 pm the committee on committees took up in a open hearing the bills that would increase taxes on items such as liquor, cigarettes, soft drinks and a proposal to repeal 2003 income tax cuts. Jennings put out one to give total control of the educational cuts to an administration that does not know how to keep classroom education safe because all they care about is their own $100,000 and up paychecks. We know where he stands on these issues. It is a shame that the voting public will have to wait to get their chance to deal with that for a few years until he runs for reelection. Clearly there are a few older state senators who need to retire and allow the progressive senators to take control as this would be better for our children in this state.
The educational unions were all there and their members filled the gallery in order to show their support of state senators who are friendly to public education. Some were even chanting the name of their state senator. Senator Michael Sanchez took the time to explain the processes as he ran through the opening of the senate so viewers would have a better understanding of what they were watching. With a body that deliberates it is not uncommon to face delays in order to have the proper paper work in hand and to have time to have read and studied it in order to move forward in a intelligent manner.
Much debate was had over what the governor had sent down as basic rules of what would be covered in the special session since clearly the governor did not want to see children, teachers, or education in general harmed. Late word was that the governor was beginning to give in to some of the republicans and senators like Jennings’ and Smith’s demands for cuts to basic education. Everyone in the room knew that the governor is known for moving toward the center of issues and first taking a hard stand so it is no surprise to anyone that he would give ground on this issue as well. The fear is how much harm is he will to do to our children and teachers just to make a deal with the republicans and budget hawk democrats.
I ran into a number of elected officials early in the day. Senators Keller and Eichenberg both were working hard to protect education where they could. Diane Denish said, “I will not vote for anything that would harm our children”. She has always been a strong defender of early education in this state. It may very well fall to her in the near future to fix the harm done to education this year by the Republican Party and their very close friends Senator Jennings and Senator Smith.
Outside before the session started were a few groups that showed up to display their strong feelings on issues. The gay and lesbian group formed a ring around the roundhouse to make their feeling about marriage clear. The Teacher Unions held a press conference to explain that voters, parents and educators strongly do not support cuts and will demand answers if education is further harmed this year when it is in bad need of basic reform because of the lack of will power of educational administration to control administration cost.
I also had a pleasant surprise because I ran into Judge Tim Garcia who was collecting signatures for his reelection to the appeals court. Out of all the candidates for the three seats this is the judge that I think has the best temperament to be an appeals court judge. Like State Supreme Court Justice Daniels, Appeals Court Judge Garcia just has what it takes to be a great judge for our state.