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Astroplanning Capital Outlay

Senate Bill 33 - the Capital Outlay Planning and Monitoring Act introduced by Senator Carlos Cisneros is an attempt to get a handle on well-publicized problems with New Mexico's capital outlay process. It's probably an improvement.

The bill would create a capital outlay planning council to oversee development of the already required State Capital Outlay Plan. This work would become the responsibility of the Legislative Finance Committee instead of the Department of Finance and Administration.

The statewide plan is a big  job. Each agency, every local government and quite a few unqualified entities, submit projects for funding to this or that legislator or agency.  They all are supposed to be qualified, vetted, ranked, prioritized and presented for  approval and funding. Then each project is supposed to get monitored and each entity held accountable through reports and audits. 

Once upon a time this big  job was done by a cabinet level planning department. The agency went away in 1983 and its functions were dispersed to the bureaucratic forest.  Some oversight was given to the local government division of DFA. Every agency became responsible for plans. Plans were not required or required to be coordinated.  The process devolved into project lists with timelines.

The Executive Planning Act (NMSA 9-14-3)  gives the Governor significant responsibilities for administering statewide planning. The Government Restructuring Task Force Report of 2010 has strong wording recommended that the Governor step-up and study re-creating a state planning agency. Authors saw clear potential in exercising planning principles to save costs and improve government.

That didn't happen.

SB 33 goes the opposite direction, removing state level planning responsibility from the executive branch entirely and placing it with the Legislative Finance Committee (by repealing 6-4-1.)

There is nothing long-range or comprehensive about capital planning in New Mexico now and this bill doesn’t change that.


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