NM In Depth – Governor, lawmakers tussle over funding for Ethics Commission

Feb 5, 2020 | In the News

Last year the debate over New Mexico’s first-ever Ethics Commission was about its day-to-day running and its independence. This year it’s about money. 

And the game is on.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants to give the state’s independent Ethics Commission a lot more operating money than lawmakers. She recommends nearly $400,000 to help the commission get up and running in its first few months of operation. The Legislature’s request is half that. She’s also recommending a quarter million more for the agency in its first-full year of operation than is the Legislature, $1.24 million (page 18 of her budget request) compared to $985,000 (pages 43-44 of the Legislature’s). 

Lujan Grisham’s aid for this year is $385,000 (it’s on page 49 of Lujan Grisham’s proposed budget plan) compared to the $200,000 the House Appropriations and Finance Committee adopted Thursday.

The state agency, led by a seven-member board, by law is able to begin receiving complaints this month and needs to add staff for that work after hiring executive director Jeremy Farris in September. 

These different funding goals matter because the agency’s mission – investigating ethics complaints – is a touchy subject for some state lawmakers who’ve over the years repeatedly feared attacks prior to elections… Read the full story on NM In Depth.