New Mexico Governor Signs Federal Pandemic Assistance Spending Bill | Ap
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday signed a nearly $ 500 spending bill that leverages federal pandemic relief funds to expand high-speed Internet access, strengthen roads, modernize parks and parks. State, expand nurse education programs and help teachers pay off student debt in times of educator shortages.
Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, approved all spending proposed in the bill, but vetoed the requirement that local governments contribute to related affordable housing projects. The governor said the demand was unreasonable given the economic distress.
A bill signing ceremony in Belen marked a truce in a months-long standoff between the governor and a handful of state senators over which branch of government can allocate $ 1.7 billion in federal pandemic aid .
Lujan Grisham initially claimed sole authority over the aid approved in March by President Joe Biden and Congress. Lawmakers including Republican Senator Greg Baca de Belen and unaffiliated Senator Jacob Candelaria from Albuquerque (then Democrat) challenged the governor in the Supreme Court and successfully defended the legislature’s oversight of federal relief funds.
Baca highlighted a provision in the bill that sets aside $ 50 million for the eventual construction of an acute care hospital in Valencia County, which encompasses rapidly growing communities outside of Albuquerque.
The bill signed on Tuesday provides $ 133 million for broadband Internet infrastructure. Spending may go towards alternatives to underground fiber optic cables such as satellite networks.
It allocated $ 142 million for road and highway infrastructure projects, $ 25 million for housing assistance, $ 20 million for modernizing the state’s national park system, $ 15 million for nurse training programs; and $ 15 million in advertisements aimed at attracting tourists to the state.
The state will spend an additional $ 10 million to pick up trash, $ 7 million for outdoor recreation programs and $ 5 million for food banks.
The state has already used $ 600 million in federal pandemic assistance to replenish the state’s UI trust fund, avoiding increases in payroll taxes for local businesses.
Lujan Grisham had previously authorized spending on raffle prizes for those vaccinated and additional wages for farm workers who harvest and transform the state’s famous Chilean culture.
Of the initial allocation of $ 1.7 billion in federal state aid, lawmakers have invested more than half a billion dollars in the general state fund to allow more time for spending decisions in the years to come.
Leading lawmakers emphasize the need for workforce training and education programs to expand and diversify a state economy closely tied to oil production, tourism, and federal military and research facilities.