treasurer says governor overstepped his authority over aid funds | New Mexico News

By MORGAN LEE, Associated Press

SANTA FE, NM (AP) – New Mexico state treasurer has said New Mexico governor is overstepping his authority in independently deciding how to spend more than $ 1 billion on federal relief without legislative approval nor accountability, in court documents obtained Wednesday.

In a Supreme Court briefing, Democratic state treasurer Tim Eichenberg sided with two lawmakers who say the legislature’s primary authority over state spending decisions is overruled by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Senate Republican Minority Leader Gregory Baca de Belen and Democratic Senator Jacob Candelaria from Albuquerque have asked the Supreme Court to intervene to restrict the governor’s spending power without legislative approval. The governor’s office is preparing its response.

Eichenberg, mired in controversy as the keeper of the state treasury accounts, said federal relief legislation signed by President Joe Biden in March grants states broad discretion over how to allocate funds. spending, discretionary power that should not be left to the governor alone.

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“Looking otherwise will eliminate the original constitutional legislative authority … and allow the disbursement of public funds without necessary public oversight and accountability,” said the treasurer’s briefing.

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat running for re-election in 2022, used the relief funds to replenish the state’s unemployment insurance trust and secure millions of dollars in raffle prizes for those who lost their lives. immunize, claiming that relief spending is the responsibility of the executive, not the Legislature. Decisions are pending on over $ 1 billion in federal relief.

Baca and Candelaria have asked the High Court to block the governor’s spending authorization. Eichenberg says he will defer to court.

“The federal government cannot, through the allocation of funds, endow the governor – even a well-meaning governor acting in the aftermath of a public health emergency – with powers greater than those granted by the state constitution,” said the state treasurer’s office.

A former state senator, Eichenberg was re-elected for a second term as treasurer in 2018.

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