Dems claim gambling bill behind gov's vetoes

Posted at: 03/15/2013 6:44 PM
Updated at: 03/15/2013 10:15 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The only thing lawmakers are required to do this session is pass a budget, but the governor has vetoed the current plan, and now Democratic lawmakers are saying a tribal gambling agreement is the real reason.

Gov. Susana Martinez has said she vetoed the budget because lawmakers have not passed her education reforms or her tax cuts for businesses - she never mentioned gambling.

It's a gambling compact with the Navajo tribe - the governor wanted lawmakers to approve it in the last week of the session - but they didn't.

"She really wants to have this new Navajo gaming compact negotiated and signed - sealed - and on her desk fast - and if we don't give that to her that's the real reason I think she wants us to come back - so she can get that out of the special session." Albuquerque Democratic Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino said.

Some Democrats say she's shopping for Navajo votes and tribal financial support for her re-election next year, but Republicans say that's nonsense.

"I don't think the governor is gauging any kind of vetoes on any sort of thing like that - she's a lot stronger and a lot better person than that - she's not gonna be doing that at all," Sen. Minority Leader Stuart Ingle (R-Portales) said.

Lawmakers from both parties say there really wasn't time for the gambling deal anyway.

"These are huge complicated issues because they affect not only the navajo nation that wants to expand gambling, but also all the other pueblos and racetracks also and that would have just paralyzed this session." Sen. Cisco McSorley (D-Albuquerque) said.

This session will come to a halt at noon Saturday, but look for a special session later in the spring to come up with a new budget, and don't be surprised if that gambling agreement is on the agenda.