Good morning.   Seeing as it's the weekend, please consider this morning review of yesterday's events at the Capitol.

Students in Santa Fe

ASUNM and GPSA students flirted with information overload Friday during the Legislative Student Orientation.  This boot camp, which  is put on by the Office of Government and Community Relations, prepares UNM students for the rigors of the upcoming session.  Both student groups are promoting legislation, with ASUNM looking at lottery solvency solutions and GPSA  advocating for the student graduate tax credit.

With the students' lottery summit coming up Nov. 27, they took the opportunity to quiz legislative leaders about the lottery scholarship's financial and political realities.  They had frank dialogues with Legislative Finance Committee co-chair Sen. John Arthur Smith (D-Deming), Legislative Education Study Committee Chair Rep. Rick Miera (D-Albuquerque), LFC Deputy Director Charles Sallee and Higher Education Dept. Secretary Jose Garcia.  Their discussions also focused on the proliferation of higher ed campuses in the state and how they could continue to be sustained.

Students learned about the "zero-sum game" involved in balancing the budget from Sen. Smith.  They told him they appreciated his bluntness, and he bluntly talked to them about lottery options, enrollment options, the ERB solvency plan, natural gas pricing, broadening the economic base, entitlements and "sharing the pain."  (More on the ERB solvency plan to come.)

Deputy Secretary for Budget and Policy Duffy Rodriguez and State Budget Division Deputy Director Michael Marcelli took the students through the year-long process of developing, debating and finalizing the state budget.  Factoid:  New Mexico is one of only five states that develops two competing budget proposals - one from the executive branch and the other from the legislative branch - for legislators to consider in building the state budget.  Note to students:  DFA is actively recruiting graduates with an interest in finance and policy who want careers in state government.

John Yaeger, Asst. Director of the Legislative Council Service, briefed students on the process involved in getting their proposed legislation developed, sponsored and drafted.  UNM Government Relations Director Marc Saavedra briefed students on the university's legislative priorities and UNM contract lobbyist Joe Thompson drilled them on the protocols of the legislative process, committee hearings and working the lawmakers.

There will be a second orientation for student interns in January.

ERB Solvency

The Education Retirement Board's proposed plan for solvency may be facing some rough waters ahead.  Sen. John Arthur Smith indicated that both he and DFA director Dr. Tom Clifford seriously doubt that the ERB plan achieves solvency as promised.  The DFA also told us the Governor is waiting for some numbers to be crunched and will be sharing her ideas about retirement solvency in the near future.

As always, send questions and comments to

Until next time,
Susan McKinsey
Office of Government and Community Relations