Sen. Clemente Sanchez to focus on job growth during legislative session

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Ready or not, the session has started.

At least that's the way freshman legislator Sen. Clemente Sanchez (D-30, Grants) is looking at the 60-day session.

"I think I'm ready. If not, it's going to start any way," Sanchez said, laughing.

He, along with all the other first-year representatives in Santa Fe, must be officially sworn in before they can file a piece of proposed legislation.

But even though he couldn't pre-file anything, Sanchez says he will spend the session focusing on legislation that can create jobs.

"As I said in my campaign, I will do all I can to create jobs in the private sector," he said.

As the director of the Small Business Development Center housed on the Grants campus of the New Mexico State University, Sanchez is used to dealing with and advising private businesses.

A big part of any session is the budget, and this time is no exception. Sanchez says he wants to make sure education is adequately in this budget.

"I think it will be. The governor and the Legislative Finance Committee aren't that far apart on their respective budgets," he said.

The major difference is the LFC proposal gives state employees raises, while the governor's version does not.

"They haven't had (raises) in a long time, so we need to incorporate that. It's important because insurance is going up," Sanchez said. "The budget needs a little tweaking, but it's pretty close to being in line."

And while legislators have to look at the big picture of the state's budget, their constituents and the governing bodies in their districts are looking at a smaller picture in the form of local capital outlay.

Sanchez said he has met with representatives from the villages of Bosque Farms and Los Lunas to go over their outlay requests, and he has also spoken with some Valencia County commissioners.

"I think they will work together on county-wide projects. And I will make sure our rural communities are taken care of," he said. "It can't all go to statewide projects. The smaller, rural communities don't have the tax base that everybody else does."

With the session just starting, Sanchez said he is excited and looking forward to working for his constituents who need assistance.

"I can't do it by myself. I need everyone's advice and prayers," he said. "I've asked that my constituents in Valencia County and all my other areas to come up and visit with their legislators. We'll be up with other people but I want people to come see me."

The new senator said his door — room 414B — is always open.

"This is the people's house," he said.

Sanchez wasn't available for an interview last week for the News-Bulletin's legislative preview story due to a death in the family.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.