Michelle Lujan Grisham, Democratic candidate for governor, said during a visit to Roswell Tuesday that she would like to sign legislation that would have created an independent regional air authority for Roswell International Airport and surrounding properties, legislation Gov. Susanna Martinez vetoed during the last legislative session.
The Regional Air Center Economic Development Act would have formed an independent authority of between five and nine people to manage and market the Roswell International Airport and some adjacent properties owned by the city to attract new businesses to the area.
“You don’t want to be top down. I believe that good state government happens the other way, then why aren’t you giving a community the opportunity to do an airport authority if they believe that the data is there?” she asked.
Lujan Grisham said infrastructure such as airports are looked at as tools to attract businesses and would not have vetoed the bill.
The bill passed both houses of the Legislature with bipartisan support but was vetoed by Martinez. Martinez, a Republican, said during a visit to Roswell earlier this month she vetoed the legislation because members of the authority would be appointed and therefore not accountable to voters.
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Lujan Grisham said if elected, she would want to make a formal proposal to the New Mexico Legislature to again vote on the Regional Air Center Economic Development, and what Lujan Grisham said were hundreds of other bills that garnered bipartisan support, that Martinez vetoed during her nearly eight years in office. Lujan Grisham said she would hope to sign those bills in the first days of her administration.
She added that she would have to check but thinks most of those bills are still relevant to the present needs of New Mexico.
Lujan Grisham and her running mate state Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, made a stop in Roswell Tuesday as part of their Jobs and Leadership tour across the state about 71 days before the election. Both candidates spoke at an event at the campaign office of the Democratic Party of Chaves County.
Lujan Grisham, a U.S. Representative and former New Mexico Secretary for Human Services Department, and Morales are running against U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican and his running mate Michelle Holmes Garcia in the race to succeed Martinez in November.
Martinez is unable to run for re-election due to term limits.
“This is a community that believes in vision, so why not have a governor that believes in you, too,” she said to the crowd at the campaign event.
Lujan Grisham said she is running because she believes New Mexico faces great challenges but has a lot of potential. Morales said he deicided to join Lujan Grisham on the ticket because New Mexico needs to be taken in a different direction.
Despite an oil and gas boom, many communities still have trouble with jobs and education, Lujan Grisham said.
Lujan Grisham said she recognizes oil, gas and agriculture are the key economic drivers in the state, but need to be married to emerging industries such as value-added agriculture, the arts and renewable energy to create job opportunities.
She said communities such as Las Vegas, New Mexico, which is building a historic hotel and hopes to attract train traffic from Phoenix, are already identifying opportunities to grow their economies.
To jumpstart those local economies and industries though the state needs to be a partner to reduce and remove barriers to growth, help identify additional resources, including federal dollars, and signal they are committed to making a better climate for those industries.
Lujan Grisham said because the state has not done that and in some cases — such as with the wind power industry — the state government is “straight up standing in the way.”
As a result, such industries either have not taken off or gone to other states.
Pearce has said he will not implement any new taxes, saying there are other ways the state can generate additional revenue.
“If you are not willing to invest and I am not looking for places where we have revenue to do that, I am limiting my returns,” she said.
Lujan Grisham said she will not make a no-new-taxes pledge, and thinks doing so would be a mistake. She added that such pledges have caused Congress and New Mexico’s state government not to make needed investments in infrastructure, education and job training.
Proposals such as taxing internet sales, methane mediation and investing the full 9 percent that the state is allowed to invest in their permanent funds, are ideas that could bring in more state revenue.
She said that taxes on recreational cannabis is something she would also consider, but would want a comprehensive plan to deal with public safety, workplace intoxication and other issues.
Recreational marijuana is not legal in New Mexico.
Lujan Grisham said she and Morales are going to every county to visit voters, regardless of whether those areas have supported Democrats or not.
“Our job is to get to as many villages, cities, communities, neighborhoods and counties as possible and that is exactly what we are doing,” she said.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at email@example.com.