The New Mexico Legislature is wrapping up a frustrating session at Noon today, one held amidst downward spiraling revenues and inexorable Governor opposition to revenue enhancement (higher taxes).
Despite all the doom, gloom and lack of compromising room, there are capital outlay projects that have survived, at least to this point, in the session. Here’s a handy-dandy look at them, by County, from House Bill 219. These Severance Tax Bond projects constitute just about all of the “pork” this session, including money to individual public and charter schools.
In looking through the projects, one is struck by how many are dedicated to placing security cameras on school campuses. This has been an on-going trend for the past few years, but has picked up even more steam in response to recent break-ins, such at that suffered by Wilson Middle School over Winter Break. Here’s a photo by the Journal’s Dean Hanson illustrating the damage of this rather sickening attack:
What makes attacks like this even more sickening is the resultant money spent installing security cameras. A count of Bernalillo County capital outlays projects dedicated to installing such cameras totals $2.31 million. That’s out of an overall total of just over $28 million for ALL capital outlay projects in Bernalillo County via HB 219.
While the Governor might line item veto capital outlay projects, a strong guess is that she won’t line item any pertaining to security cameras. Just looking at that photo tells one that. The upshot is that in a time of current financial belt-tightening (with even greater revenue darkness seemingly ahead), we’re going to spend $2.31 million in achingly needed education funds on something that has nothing to do with education.
This fact serves as a pretty good microcosm of just how fundamentally depressing the Legislative session has been. Desperately needing forward economic thinking and creative spending, we’re forced, undeniably so, to throw money at this.
Well, at least the security camera installation business will thrive, now more than ever. The actual education of our kids in our public and charter schools? It sure could use that $2.31 million.
*Today’s title comes from one of Better Burque’s favorite poems, by Andrew Hudgins. Although it’s perhaps even more depressing than this session has been, maybe reading it can provide some perspective and solace. Note: The poem is not exactly “SFW” and is not one that your humble blogger ever taught in his 8th Grade Literature class.