The Senate Indian and Cultural Affairs today voted a "Do-Pass" on SB79, the health council funding legislation sponsored by Senator Howie Morales. Several people were on hand to testify, if necessary, on behalf of the legislation: Dick Mason from Sandoval, Patricia Boies from Santa Fe, Lore Pease from Rio Arriba, and Kim Gabaldon from Los Alamos County. This follows a similar action by the House Government, Elections, and Indian Affairs Committee yesterday, with HB99, the companion bill in the House, sponsored by Representative Sharon Clahchischilliage.
The next step will be for an appropriation to be incorporated into the House Budget Bill, HB2, by the House Appropriations and Finance Committee. The budget will then go over to the Senate Finance Committee for modifications. The goal is to get the entire $900,000 incorporated into the house budget, and failing that, to have the full amount inserted on the Senate side. It is clear that in the Legislature we have increasingly wide understanding and support for the health councils, and their role as a vital part of the New Mexico's public health system. We also have able and committed allies in Rep. Clahchischilliage and Senator Morales. Our major challenges are the increasingly pessimistic revenue forecasts (based on the price of oil), and the fact that the health council funding was not included in the original Executive and Legislative Finance Committee budgets.
It will be extremely important to contact legislators to ask for their support for this appropriation--and especially those on the House and Senate finance committees. Members of these two committees are listed below.
Thanks to everyone for your active support and continued great work.