Sen. Garcia collects per diem for meetings she barely attends

Posted 6/30/2006 02:15:00 PM

In a posting earlier this week about the proposal to pay legislators, I complained that some lawmakers attend committee meetings just to give quick speeches, collect per diem and leave.

I wasn’t planning to name names, until I read an article today in the Albuquerque Journal.

Sen. Mary Jane Garcia, D-Doña Ana, collected $26,000 in per diem last year – the most of any legislator in the state.

Why?

“I take my committees very seriously,” Garcia told the Journal. “I belong to eight interim committees.”

That’s right, and she’s a member of an additional five permanent committees, bringing the grand total to 13.

Sen. Cynthia Nava, D-Las Cruces, belongs to six committees. Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, belongs to eight. And Sen. Leonard “Lee” Rawson, R-Las Cruces, belongs to nine.

One could argue that Garcia has overextended herself.

Lawmakers collect $144 per day in per diem on trips, and are also reimbursed for mileage at a rate of 44.5 cents per mile.

That’s fine, if you’re doing work for the state.

But I can’t tell you how many times in my eight years as a journalist in this area people have complained to me about Garcia arriving late to conference committee meetings, staying long enough to give five-minute speeches, signing per-diem forms and leaving early.

I’ve heard it from legislators. I’ve heard it from other politicians. I’ve heard it from political watchers.

If my tax dollars are going to pay for a legislator to eat out and stay in a hotel while attending a conference committee meeting, I want that legislator to attend the entire meeting and listen to others, not just say her piece. Committee meetings should be forums for discussion and places where lawmakers attempt to reach consensus.

Serving on a bunch of interim committees is nice, especially if you’re seeking visibility and self-promotion. Actually taking part in the work of those committees is a completely different matter.

10 Comments:

At 3:36 PM, June 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

She keeps winning and winning and is power broker in the local D party

 
At 4:19 PM, June 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Sad, I always thought she was sure a fine person, but after reading your blog it cast major doubts...

 
At 6:50 PM, June 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mary Jane takes her work in the legislature and on the committees with which she serves, very seriously. She spends her interim time researching new bills for NM to create a more humane state and to pull NM out of the "backwater realm" it is considered by other states for some of our hayseed policies. We would be lucky to have more politicians like her and I wholeheartedly support our tax dollars paying her for seemingly unending work.

 
At 7:50 PM, June 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have attended many committee meetings that Senator Garcia is a member or chairs or co-chairs. These meetings can last sometimes for 4 or 5 hours or more. she has been there the whole time that I have been there. Dona Ana county are indeed fortunate to have a committed and dedicated public servant who cares about her state and the people she represents.

 
At 10:30 PM, July 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that if we eliminate the per diems and pay these legislators a wage, such as the $24,000 proposed (not exactly a great sum), then we could, perhaps, rid our legislature of the bias that seems rampant in the fact that only the wealthy represent the few in this state and their apparent ethical dilemma in accepting these per diem charges. I also think we might eliminate the inherent bias that comes with keeping their “day job” and being a legislator.

 
At 11:09 PM, July 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Senator Garcia, thank you for doing an excellent job for this county... Our tax dollars are well spent...for any one who understands per diem, it is a small price for your hard work.

Bills Sponsored by Senator Mary Jane M. Garcia
2006 Regular Session

Bill Number Title
SB17 EXPAND & CREATE CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS
SB38 NMSU AEROSPACE ENGINEERING PROGRAMS
SB70 INTERNATIONAL FILM PROGRAM FOR SCHOOLS
SB71 NMSU & UNM NATIVE AMERICAN CENTERS
SB72 HISTORIC PRESERVATION EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS
SB73 INCOME TAX CREDIT IMPACT ON CULTURAL PROPERTY
SB77 DONA ANA UNCOMPENSATED PERINATAL CARE
SB82 DEATH PENALTY CASE CONTRACT ATTORNEY RATES
SB83 DENTAL HYGIENE PROGRAMS
SB93 WATER TRUST FUND
SB96 NMSU ARROWHEAD CENTER ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SB98 GRANTS TO RURAL COMMUNITIES
SB99 RURAL COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
SB101 NMSU MINORITY & WOMEN FACULTY RECRUITMENT
*SB106 CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK FEES & FUND
SB111 DEVELOP CENTENNIAL COMMEMORATION PLAN
SB119 NMSU SCIENCE, MATH & ENGINEERING ACADEMY
SB120 NMSU AEROSPACE ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT
SB121 NMSU SPACE & AEROSPACE RESEARCH PROGRAM
SB122 ANIMAL SHELTERING SERVICES ACT
SB123 CAMINO NUEVO FACILITY LIFE SKILLS PROGRAM
*SB124 DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & CHILDREN'S SERVICES
SB125 REGIONAL JUVENILE JUSTICE PROGRAMS
*SB128 SANITARY PROJECTS FUNDING AMENDMENTS
SB129 NMSU WASTE EDUCATION RESEARCH CONSORTIUM
SB136 DONA ANA COUNTY MENTAL HEALTH COURT
SB137 SOUTHERN NM BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SERVICES
SB255 CREATE FEE-FREE ZONES NEAR MEXICAN BORDER
SB256 3RD JUDICIAL DISTRICT AMIGAS COURT PROGRAM
SB265 ARTS PROGRAMS IN MAIN STREET COMMUNITIES
SB358 STATE HISTORIAN NM HISTORY SCHOLARS PROGRAM
SB361 STATE HISTORIAN NM HISTORY WEB SITE
*SB366 NM MAINSTREET PROGRAM ADMINISTRATION
SB405 NMSU CHICANO PROGRAM STUDENT OUTREACH
*SB406 TEACHER PROGRAMS FOR AT-RISK HISPANIC TEENS
SB467 TAYLOR REYNOLDS BARELA MESILLA STATE MONUMENT
SB515 SPECIAL PATRIOT REGISTRATION PLATES
SB516 HOMELESS VETERAN ASSISTANCE
SB517 TRUANCY PREVENTION PROGRAM
SB522 AMERICAN INDIAN FILM & TV TRAINING PROGRAM
SB585 HISTORIC PRESERVATION LOAN FUND
SB586 INTERSTATE WATER CONFLICT LEGAL EXPENSES
SB587 LATINO & NATIVE AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL
SB623 NMSU & NM TECH AEROSPACE DEPARTMENTS
SB715 LAS CRUCES NARCOTICS POLICE BALLISTIC VESTS
SB716 AGRICULTURAL PRODUCERS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SB755 PUBLIC PEACE, HEALTH, SAFETY & WELFARE
SB757 PUBLIC PEACE, HEALTH, SAFETY & WELFARE
SB758 PUBLIC PEACE, HEALTH, SAFETY & WELFARE
SM12 STUDY LIFETIME SEX OFFENDER MONITORING
SJM34 BETTER PUBLICIZE SAFE HAVEN FOR INFANTS ACT
SJM46 OFFICIAL STATE HISTORY WEB SITE
SCO113 CONSTRUCTING A YOUTH TRANSITIONAL LIVING FACILITY IN DONA ANA COUNTY
SCO740 PURCHASING INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FOR THE NEW MEXICO ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE
SCO895 CONSTRUCTING A JUDICIAL COMPLEX IN HATCH--CHANGE TO A PUBLIC SAFETY BUILDING--SEVERANCE TAX BONDS
SCO1165 CONSTRUCTING A PARKING LOT AND EQUIPMENT SHELTER AT FIRE STATION 1 IN LAS CRUCES
SCO1166 IMPROVEMENTS TO THE DOWNTOWN PLAZA IN LAS CRUCES
SCO1167 BUS SHELTERS IN LAS CRUCES
SCO1168 EXPANDING THE BRANIGAN LIBRARY FACILITY IN LAS CRUCES
SCO1169 IMPROVEMENTS AT THE BRANIGAN CULTURAL CENTER SCULPTURE GARDEN IN LAS CRUCES
SCO1170 AQUATIC AND FAMILY RECREATION CENTER IN LAS CRUCES
SCO1171 PATIENT SIMULATOR FOR DONA ANA BRANCH COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN LAS CRUCES
SCO1172 GATEWAYS AND BUS STOP STRUCTURES IN THE MESQUITE HISTORIC DISTRICT OF LAS CRUCES
SCO1173 MESILLA VALLEY COMMUNITY OF HOPE PROJECT IN LAS CRUCES
SCO1174 AN ADDITION TO LA CASA DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SHELTER IN LAS CRUCES
SCO1550 CAPITAL PROJECTS IN DONA ANA COUNTY
SCO1551 A NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURAL CENTER AT NEW MEXICO STATE UNIVERSITY
SCO1552 EQUIPPING THE PETROLEUM AND CHEMISTRY LABORATORY AT NEW MEXICO STATE UNIVERSITY
SCO1553 CONSTRUCTING AND EQUIPPING THE CAMINO REAL DE TIERRA ADENTRO INTERNATIONAL HERITAGE CENTER IN SOCORRO
SCO1554 SECURITY EQUIPMENT AT NEW MEXICO HIGHLANDS UNIVERSITY
SCO1555 CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS TO PLACITAS COMMUNITY CENTER AND PARK IN PLACITAS
SCO1556 CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS FOR THE MILAGRO WASTEWATER PROJECT
SCO1557 CAPITAL PROJECTS IN DONA ANA
SCO1560 CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS FOR THE RODEY COMMUNITY CENTER IN RODEY
SCO1561 CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS FOR THE LAS CRUCES AND GADSDEN SCHOOL DISTRICTS' FLASHING BEACONS PROJECT
SCO1562 CAPITAL PROJECTS IN LAS CRUCES
SCO1656 NORTHERN NEW MEXICAN TRADITIONAL HISPANIC ART COLLECTION AT THE NEW MEXICO HISTORY MUSEUM IN SANTA FE
SCO1660 EQUIPPING FORT SELDEN STATE MONUMENT IN DONA ANA COUNTY
SCO1661 A STONE PEDESTAL FOR THE STATUE IN THE PLAZA IN DONA ANA

 
At 9:18 AM, July 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I didn't realize how much the senior senator wanted to accomplish! Thanks for info, anonymous.

 
At 10:33 AM, July 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is a heavy load of legislation. I know during the 2006 session, Sen. D. Duran only sponsored 1 bill and few capital outlay requests. I believe Duran is Rep. Caucus chair.

Good job Senator Garcia! You deserve both salary and per diem.

 
At 3:31 PM, July 03, 2006, Blogger civlib said...

Me thinks that the comment posters protest too loudly!All are anonymous and seem to be enrolled in the Democratic "Good Old Boys/Girls" network.Since when does quantity of proposed legislation equate to needed and QUALITY proposed legislation.The numbers translate to a pattern of per diem grabbing and creates the impression (already stated above)that legislators must be compensated.My opinion is that current legislators are pushing for guaranteed compensation PLUS per diems!

 
At 9:55 PM, July 03, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Current legislators deserve both per diem and a salary.

Who can serve as a legislator? Only individuals that have employement that gives them one or two months off a year and an annual salary that allows thems to take that much time off.

Per diem is givin to employees who use their own vechicles to attend a function and money to eat and sleep.

A salary might get more people running for State Rep or Sen. Which is really what is needed in this state

 

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