Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Capitol Report: Oil, Movies And Lt. Gov. Denish

At the Legislative Finance Committee Meeting today in Santa Fe, Sen. William Sharer, a Farmington Republican, and Rep. Don Bratton, a Hobbs Republican, expressed serious worry that the state's financial situation is going to get even worse. Sharer said he had seen five idle rigs in San Juan County recently, something not known for years. It's "because of the pit rules," he said. ConocoPhillips has announced plans to move $150 million in planned spending to other states, he said.
Pits, I understand, are small, lined basins that hold salty water that comes up with oil. Industry considers the administration's new rules to be onerous. More to come on that topic.
This means the state coffers are getting a double hit—less royalty money now due to lower prices and fewer wells in the future because of the pit rules.
Sen. John Arthur Smith, LFC chair, added that the situation was forecast in March. "This is why we don't know where the bottom is. We're very apprehensive," he said.
Smith asked the movie question of Fred Mondragon, Economic Development Department secretary. Smith has been getting what he called "interesting inquiries" about use for operational purposes of state capital outlay money allocated to movie projects. What's up, Smith asked. Mondragon and Film Office director Lisa Strout were unable to enlighten Smith. The discussion ended with mention of a "governor's media fund." Smith said he expected the investigative questions to continue.
Finally, passing by the office of Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, I notice a sign on the wall of the reception area. It said, "Observe the turtle. He only progresses with his neck out." neat thought. But "he"?

No comments: