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Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Harbison: Where do we go from here?
Now that the Governor Martinez administration has begun we can only hope that the future of New Mexico becomes brighter. I am confident that she will surround herself with competent capable advisors to help overcome the significant problems that confront this state.
We know she has discovered some of the issues not disclosed prior to the elections including the much understated budget shortfalls. The budget imbalance is the most difficult problem for her administration. Finding solutions that will be acceptable to everyone will be impossible and there will have to be significant program and staff reductions, and necessary tax increases to meet the mandated balanced budget requirements. Her biggest test will be can she demonstrate real leadership and convince the legislature and the general public to make the required spending cuts and focus on the essential requirements of government. At this point in the current economic environment it will be necessary to forego the “nice to have” programs and focus on the “must have” programs.
Also will the state’s historical tradition of patronage handicap her administration? Will she be able to overcome this not only within the executive department but within the legislature as well? Time will tell and I would caution all those who believe she will be unable to make any effective change in these old institutions. Governor Martinez is very determined and understands the law and she certainly knows how to make it work for the benefit of the citizens of New Mexico. I don’t think she can or will be intimidated by the legislature but will undertake a role to restore the confidence in government and the rule of law.
The “pay to play” philosophy of the previous administration will become part of the past history of the State and not part of the present. Changing the ethical conduct and attitude of the legislature, other government officials, agencies, and contracting will require diligence and persistence and will be a difficult task for her administration. Restoration of the public’s confidence in government is essential and it is a non-partisan issue and hopefully it will have non-partisan solution. One question that must be addressed is “does she start from scratch” and eliminate all Richardson appointments and Democrat cronies or does she try to retain some of the best and brightest who served in his administration to move the State forward.
While there are some who are so politically polarized that their service would hinder the direction that Governor Martinez seeks to pursue, there are other appointees who are very talented and experienced who could provide tremendous expertise. They must be willing to be part of the solution and not a continuing part of the problem. She will need their support and commitment first to truly identify all the problems and issues that face this State and then to develop solutions to resolve them. After restoring financial sanity to the legislature and achieving a balanced budget her administration will need to address a multitude of other problems that adversely impact this state. She will need to develop a strategy to create jobs and an environment that encourages economic development throughout New Mexico. Additionally, and perhaps equally important she needs to fix our failing educational system so that current and future New Mexicans have an opportunity for economic prosperity within the State of New Mexico.
Now is the time for all New Mexicans of all political orientations to rally around our new Governor to help fix the problems that plague our State. They aren’t Republican or Democrat problems they are New Mexican problems. Let’s work together to improve our State!