Governor signs bill reforming process for capital outlay allocations

Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham took the state in a positive direction on April 7, 2021, with the signing of House Bill 55, publication of capital outlay allocations, making New Mexico’s public infrastructure funding process transparent.

House Bill 55 will reform the capital outlay process resulting in the production of a searchable list identifying the projects sponsored by each legislator, and how much funding each legislator allocated to each project.

The bill had unanimous support on the floor of the Senate and passed the House one vote shy of unanimous support. Rep. Matthew McQueen (D- Bernalillo, Santa Fe, Torrance and Valencia) and Sen. Bill Tallman (D-Bernalillo) sponsored the legislation

“It took us a few tries to get this passed, but capital outlay transparency is the right thing to do,” said Rep. McQueen after the governor signed the bill.

“This will be a big step to transparency and the searchable database will go a long way to helping the public. This bill has the potential to create more trust in government, it’s long overdue,” said Sen. Tallman.

Rep. Kelly Fajardo (R-Valencia) and Sen. Steve Neville (R-San Juan) co-sponsored the legislation.

“NMFOG applauds these efforts to increase the transparency of state government.  We have been on the forefront of making the Legislature more accessible to members of the public, from opening up conference committees to webcasting legislative proceedings,” Melanie J. Majors,

House Bill 55 was supported by the nonpartisan think tank Think New Mexico, Common Cause New Mexico, the League of Women Voters of New Mexico and the American Institute of Architects – New Mexico.

Currently, New Mexico divides its available funds for public infrastructure (“capital outlay”) projects among the governor and all 112 legislators. Every legislator has sole discretion over how to allocate their portion of the funding.

Under the old system, once legislators created their confidential lists of capital outlay appropriations, those lists were rolled into a single bill that did not specify the sponsors for each project, or how much each legislator contributed to each project. Unless a legislator chose to reveal their appropriations, the public never knew which legislator appropriates money for which projects.