September 2, 2010. Retrieved online September 3, 2010 from Diana M. Alba, Las Cruces Sun-News
LAS CRUCES – Both of New Mexico’s gubernatorial candidates capitalized on a nexus of rarities here Thursday in sharing their messages – lots of time and a captive audience full of diverse, politics aficionados.
Republican Susana Martinez, Doña Ana County district attorney, and Democrat Diane Denish, lieutenant governor, each had an hour during the morning session of the 2010 Domenici Public Policy Conference to discuss their platforms.
The two-day conference ended Tuesday. In all, 650 people registered to attend.
Martinez emphasized goals such as trimming the size of government, creating a business-friendly environment, changing the allocation of education dollars and eliminating driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. Denish, meanwhile, expounded upon her plan to boost job creation through helping small businesses, develop the renewable energy industry, improve the ties between public education and the workforce and also cut government spending.
Martinez contended the growth of state government under the Gov. Richardson administration hasn’t been proportionate to the growth of the economy and the state’s population. She said, if elected, she wouldn’t seek to make across-the-board cuts, but would look at the state budget for what she believes is excess, including in “exempt” government jobs “that are merely political appointments.”
“When Gov. Johnson left office, there were approximately 180 exempt positions,” she said. “Some of them today earn six-figure salaries; however, there are more than 500 exempt positions” now.
Denish didn’t devote as much time talking about cutting spending, though did mention a previously announced plan to trim $90 million annually from the state budget. She said she’d cut exempt positions and seek ways to make operations more efficient.
“If we reorganize, that will be fairly easy to do,” she said. “I think we have to focus on the basics.”
Denish said she, too, doesn’t believe across-the-board cuts are the right step to take.
Both Martinez and Denish said they wouldn’t back cuts to public education spending.
Martinez argued that New Mexico has become regulation heavy and isn’t competitive with surrounding states, especially in the oil and gas industry, which has generated big revenue for the state in past years. She said she wants to see a “balanced approach to our environment and our economic growth” in setting regulations.
“We can no longer afford to regulate businesses, if the evidence is not supporting those regulations.”
Denish emphasized the need to promote economic development through the renewable energy industry, such as by establishing community college programs to train workers and boosting the transmission grid that will help sell renewable energy to other states.
“We need to do everything we can to encourage environmentally friendly jobs,” she said.
Read the Las Cruces Sun-News article.