The New Mexico state legislature’s photo finish defeat of Senate Bill 249, a $408 million TIDD bond bill for embattled developer SunCal, sent shock waves through the Roundhouse (home of the state legislature) and the development industry late last week. The bill died on a 33-33 tie vote. A motion to reconsider was also tabled by a tie. We’re told that the outcome was so surprising that one SunCal lobbyist (of 12 registered) gasped upon hearing the final vote.
This year’s version of the TIDD bill attracted extra attention after it was brought to light that SunCal was potentially in violation of state law requiring disclosure of lobbying expenses. Also controversial was the fact that over half of SunCal’s (and its affiliates’ and subsidiaries’) 40 developments are progressing toward bankruptcy as a result of crashing real estate markets and investments made in the company by failed financial giant Lehman Bros.
You can listen to the legislative proceedings and final vote here. One of the main concerns of many legislators was the potential of the proposed massive development to pirate jobs and businesses from other areas in the state. State representatives delivered impassioned arguments against bill on the grounds of tax and budget fairness, fiscal responsibility, protecting education, human-centered development strategies, preventing regional economic distortions and subsidy creep.
Sharon Kayne of New Mexico Voices for Children believes that “it was just a matter of educating the public and legislators of what the very real, very bad consequences could be.” Hopefully it was a lesson not soon forgotten – if history is any indication, SunCal will be back again next year with its hands out at the Roundhouse.