New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson rejected a proposal to raid the state's off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail safety fund as part of a plan to balance the state budget, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.
On Nov. 9, Richardson used his line-item veto power for the state budget to ensure that $800,000 targeted for transfer to the state general fund remained in the trail safety fund. He noted the program "is funded by fees and designed to protect the safety of outdoorsmen and other New Mexicans who use off-highway vehicles."
The New Mexico Trail Safety Fund was set up primarily to build and maintain trails.
"This is a wonderful 11th-hour reprieve for a vital program that was created by users and is funded by users," said AMA western states representative Nick Haris. "At a time when state lawmakers around the nation will soon begin their legislative sessions and will once again be looking for ways to balance their state budgets, they need to remember that motorcyclists and ATV riders pay the same taxes and fees as other citizens and, in addition, pay for their own programs as well.
"The New Mexico Off Highway Vehicle Alliance did a great job alerting concerned OHVers in New Mexico to let the governor know that the fund shouldn't be raided," Haris said.
While the governor spared the OHV program and several other funds from raids, the budget still transferred nearly $110 million from special funds into the state's general-purpose fund.
The AMA has kept a close watch this year on state efforts to raid designated motorcycle funds. In August, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's administration backed away from a plan to raid that state's Motorcycle Safety and Education Program of $800,000 after a public outcry related to raids of special funds to balance the state budget.
"When lawmakers or government bureaucrats talk about raiding our programs' funds, it's crucial that all motorcyclists and ATVers let them know that this is simply unacceptable," said Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations. "Even when it appears that the money is lost, we need to keep the pressure on. New Mexico and Ohio are good examples of enthusiasts not giving up, and ultimately winning these battles."