Fog Survey Reveals Wide Support For Adoption Of New Rules
To Open Up Budget Deliberations
And Increased Measures To Strengthen IPRA
The results of a New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (FOG) survey of current members of the New Mexico Legislature and their election opponents show there is wide support for new House and Senate rules to eliminate closed meetings and backroom negotiations involving the state’s budget.
When asked if they would “support action to change House and Senate rules to eliminate any closed meetings ensuring that all budget deliberations are open and transparent”, 85.1. percent answered in the affirmative.
In addition to the questions about the budget deliberations and transparency, the FOG survey also asked if respondents would support additional measures to strengthen compliance with the Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA). The results showed more than 90.3 percent strongly in support of strengthening IPRA.
Another question addressed input into the entire budget process with only 17 percent of incumbents indicating their input was “very likely” to be considered in the budget-making process with the remainder answering that their requests and suggestions were “somewhat likely” (50%) or “not likely” (34.2%) to be taken into consideration.
When asked the importance of involving the general public in all budget deliberations more than 69.5 percent indicated “it is extremely important to involve each legislator and the public in all budget deliberations.” Twenty-two and a half percent responded that they “believe every legislator and the public should be involved in the budget process.”
A question directed only to incumbents asked how they would describe the current process for creating a budget, with 44.7 percent responding the process was somewhat open and transparent and more than 30 percent stating the process was “in need of significant reform in terms of openness and transparency.”
Another question directed to incumbents asked what provisions are made to ensure the budget process is open and transparent, with 44.7 responding that “some provisions exist” and 21.1 percent indicated “few provisions exist” under the current process.
The Need for More Transparency
In regard to more general transparency issues, the survey asked candidates and incumbents what specific measures and concrete steps were necessary to increase access to information held by the government?
Of note, Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth did respond to the survey, yet the only members of the Senate Finance Committee to provide input were Sen. Jacob Candelaria (D-Albuquerque); Sen. Sander Rue (R-Albuquerque) and Sen. Pete Campos (D-Las Vegas).
House Speaker Brian Egolf did not respond to the survey nor did House Appropriations and Finance Committee Chair Rep. Patty Lundstrom (D-Gallup). The only members of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee to respond were Rep. Harry Garcia (D-Grants) Rep. Christine Trujillo (D-Albuquerque) and Rep. Susan Herrera (D-Embudo).
About the Survey
In mid-August, FOG emailed each legislative candidate a nine-question survey asking specifics about the budget process as well as other open government issues. FOG obtained the email addresses from the Secretary of State’s office.
Of the 197 candidates for the House and Senate seats, 94 responded to the survey for a 47.7 percent participation rate. This is the first time FOG has conducted a legislative survey prior to an election.
The survey was funded through a grant from the Thornburg Foundation. A full list of the legislative candidates and their responses is available on FOG’s website at nmfog.org.
As the state’s leading advocate for transparency in government, FOG’s mission is to defend the public’s right to know and to educate citizens and government agencies about their rights and responsibilities under New Mexico’s open-meetings and open-records laws. FOG was incorporated in 1989 and as a tax-exempt is a 501(c) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.