State getting ready for this year's legislative session

Posted at: 01/20/2014 6:12 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Busier than uncle's day at the pool hall.

You would never know it was a holiday at the New Mexico State Capitol in Santa Fe Monday - the place was buzzing with activity all day long. Tuesday kicks off this year's 30-day session, so Monday it was all hands on deck - everybody preparing for the month that lies ahead.

First the important stuff - the red chile looks and smells great. That's right. The capitol kitchens are cooking, the pantries are provisioned, the iceboxes - well, they're keeping cool. The upstairs cafeteria and the downstairs lunchroom provide the fuel that will keep the legislature running for the next month. It's low cost, simple, robust chow available for lawmakers, staff and taxpayers, too.

"We prepare all of the food, all of the specials and the chile and beans," said kitchen boss Terry Ebell. "Things like that are prepared down here and then it's disbursed between the two kitchens - and we run a lot of people through here!"

Then there's the lawmaking. Oh, right - that. The Legislative Finance Committee spent the day going over their budget proposal and the one from the governor, looking for compromise room.

"I'm optimistic that we'll be able to iron our differences out and work collectively together," said Sen. John Arthur Smith, the Deming Democrat who chairs the Senate Finance Committee. "There's a lot of heavy lifting that's going to have to happen on the House side."

The budget is the chief item of business for the session. It will pay for the operations of state government, the public schools and the public colleges and universities.