1/13/11

Draining Bill Richardson's Swamp

Move over Sarah Palin, make way for Susana Martinez
Several new Republican governors have assumed office since President Obama's election, with Tea Party hopes that waves would be made. New Jersey's Chris Christie has been hard to top for showmanship, and the Blue State victories of Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Paul LePage in Maine were surprises.

But perhaps none of the new state executives matched the first-week splash made by New Mexico's Susana Martinez.

Inaugurated on New Year's Day, the former state "Prosecutor of the Year" -- known for focusing on cases involving public corruption and child abuse -- set about cleaning house from outgoing Democrat Bill Richardson's administration. And facing a $450 million deficit, she began to fulfill her campaign promise to cut government spending.

"We have experienced, in the last eight years, huge spending way beyond our means," Martinez told a local Fox affiliate. "I talked about it for 15 months as I was running for office. I was going to get the exempts [political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the governor] to resign or be fired, and then we're going to cut back the number of exempt positions we have to what is necessary. It has nothing to do with politics."

Well it may be a little more than "nothing," but in the case of Richardson's roughshod running over business on behalf of environmental extremists in the state, that's all right. In her opening days Martinez took immediate steps to correct her predecessor's policy blunders.

In addition to the usual good-government directives that are often issued on governors' opening days, Martinez addressed her other top priorities in her initial executive orders -- namely, the economy. Her first froze "all proposed and pending" rules until a small business task force could "identify red-tape regulations that are harmful to business growth and job creation in New Mexico."

Also, true to her law-and-order reputation, she rejected proposed legislative cuts to the state's corrections system and instead recommended a cut to the New Mexico Environment Department, from $14.2 million to $11.2 million.

But the step that perhaps best illustrated her intentions to rein inenvironoiac excess was in her terse firing of the state's Environmental Improvement Board. The unelected panel, filled with Richardson appointees, was riddled with conflicts of interest and pushed a Schwarzeneggerish cap-and-trade agenda for the state. EIB Chairman Gregory Green, for example, served while simultaneously lobbying for environmental organizations that signed a petition under consideration by the board. A similar conflict afflicted the previous chair, Gay Dillingham.

The bluntness with which Martinez canned the EIB members was refreshing, as she telegraphed her seriousness about rolling back environmental overreach by including her chilly letter language in her press release! :
Dear (Member):

Thank you for your service to the State of New Mexico by serving on the Environmental Improvement Board. This letter is to inform you that I am removing you as a member of the Environmental Improvement Board. Your removal is effective immediately.
But she more clearly spelled out her reasons for their dismissal in the release as well:
New Mexico has recently suffered from an anti-business environment exacerbated by policies which discourage economic development and result in businesses setting up shop across state lines. Unfortunately, the majority of EIB members have made it clear that they are more interested in advancing political ideology than implementing common-sense policies that balance economic growth with responsible stewardship in New Mexico.
(full story at: spectator.org)

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