Governor to deliver State of the State address

By Steve Terrell and Kate Nash: The Santa Fe New Mexican

Gov. Bill Richardson delivers his eighth and final State of the State address today, shortly after the second regular session of the 49th Legislature convenes in Santa Fe.

Richardson, who by law can’t seek a third consecutive term, promises his speech will be short, if not sweet, as the state’s budget crisis enters its second year.

“My State of the State speech is going to be short, the shortest ever,” the governor said in an interview last week. “It’s not going to dwell on all the accomplishments of seven years, because that would signal my governorship ends with the session. My governorship will not end, I will continue being very active. … I’ll be pushing legislation and issues till the very end.”

The speech begins soon after the Legislature calls itself into order at noon. It will be televised live on KNME, Channel 5, and Webcast on KNME’s site, www.knme.org.

The session lasts 30 days, and the agenda is limited to budget matters and those issues Richardson agrees to put on his call.

Fiscal issues are expected to take up most of lawmakers’ time. The state is staring down a $600 million shortfall.

In addition to the normal activity of the Legislature on the first day of a session, at least two political and/or protest rallies are scheduled for the Roundhouse today.

Former Gov. Gary Johnson along with fellow Republican Doug Turner, who is running for governor, will lead a protest against proposed tax increases.

Johnson recently launched a political action committee called Our America: The Gary Johnson Initiative and is speaking about small government and other issues in various locations around the country. Some have speculated that this is the kernel of a presidential bid.

Today’s rally starts at 10 a.m. outside of the east side of the Capitol.

Another Republican gubernatorial candidate, state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones of Albuquerque, is having a rally beginning at 10:30 a.m, outside of the west side of the building. “Rep. Arnold-Jones and many concerned New Mexicans will voice their support for open, transparent and streamlined government, constitutional principles and economic prosperity through free markets and individual responsibility and rally against corruption, irresponsible spending and higher taxes!” a Monday news release said.

Meanwhile, just a block or so down Old Santa Fe Trail at the State Land Office, there’s a planned protest against a land swap involving public lands at Whites Peak in northwestern New Mexico. That rally is planned for 10:30 a.m. Ray Powell Jr., a Democratic candidate for land commissioner, will speak.