2022 Governor's Race

Supreme Court Ruling A Loss For Lujan Grisham, Still A Win For Democrats

As reported by Dan Boyd of The Albuquerque Journal, “New Mexico’s Supreme Court sided with a bipartisan group of senators in a dispute over spending authority for $1.7 billion in federal relief funds, barring Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham from spending any more of the federal dollars without legislative approval.”

The ruling is being celebrated as a victory for the Constitution — “the day is a huge victory for the Constitution,” state Senator Jacob Candelaria said. “The Legislature has the obligation and the duty to allocate these funds” — and is being heralded as a major defeat for “scandal-ridden alleged serial groper Michelle Lujan Grisham,” per the Pinon Post.

And it is. 

As Supreme Court Justice David Thomson said of the Legislature’s power to spend taxpayer dollars, “I learned that in second grade — they control the purse-strings.”

While the ruling is a pleasant surprise — particularly considering that the New Mexico Supreme Court comprises five Democrats, four of whom were appointed by the scandal-ridden incumbent governor — the quick-draw of applause will be short-lived when voters remember that the state Legislature is dominated by Democrats, who hold a 61% majority in the state House and 64% in the Senate.

When state House Democrats finally agree on how to spend the federal money, Lujan-Grisham will no doubt bury the Supreme Court defeat by signing whatever bill the Democrat-majority Legislature puts on her desk, heralding the “progressive” priorities of our deep-blue state.

So while this is a notable blow to MLG in the lead up to her re-election next November, the money will still be spent by Democrats and MLG will still likely sign whatever bill Democrats send her, if the Legislature’s current fiscal priorities are any indication, this is no cause for celebration.

MLG’s opponents (seven Republicans are in the race so far) will surely use this to criticize the governor during the campaign — not only for losing a fight with the Supreme Court but also for falsely believing the Executive branch would have Constitutional authority over spending tax dollars—the blow will be offset in the news cycle by what any objective politico has to admit is just good politics: Lujan-Grisham pre-empted the Supreme Court loss by announcing a tax cut.

“Outlining her priorities as she enters a critical election year, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Wednesday that she will seek a reduction in New Mexico’s gross receipts tax for the first time in decades and push to offer nearly universal child care to help parents — especially women — enter and stay in the workforce.

“The tax cut, if successful, would shave one-quarter of a percentage point off the statewide rate and cost about $145 million a year in revenue, according to state officials.

“Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, also pledged to ask the Legislature to make it easier to hold people in jail if they’ve been accused of a violent crime, to create a $100 million fund to add police officers and to pass a law designed to make New Mexico a hydrogen hub for the nation’s efforts to address climate change.” 

— Dan McKay, The Albuquerque Journal

This too is a win for the people, if a small one. But the Democrat majorities in the House and the Democrat-leaning mainstream media in New Mexico will have the final say in how this loss is framed. And if the last mayoral election and most recent U.S. Congressional race in New Mexico are a gauge of voter intelligence, this minor setback at the Supreme Court won’t move the needle against the disaster of Democrat-dominated politicking in New Mexico.

Not only will a billion dollars in new spending do little if anything to reverse the state’s downward trajectory on crime, education, and jobs, but if the state Legislature’s past spending priorities are any indication, it may end up setting us back even further.

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