SANTA FE, N.M. – Gov. Bill Richardson (search) will call a special legislative session next month to propose a $100 million gasoline and home heating relief package.
The special session would begin Oct. 5, Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos told The Associated Press.
"We hope to have it wrapped up in as short a time as possible," Gallegos said.
Richardson scheduled a news conference Tuesday afternoon to announce the special session.
Gallegos said the one-time spending package would include rebates for taxpayers. The details were not immediately available.
"The intent is to provide relief immediately, especially for home heating," the spokesman said.
Richardson had considered a temporary suspension of the state's sales tax on gasoline, but decided not to go that route.
The governor also will propose that the state put more money into the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, in order to help more than 60,000 poor and elderly residents with their heating bills. The program gets federal and state money.
And Richardson will ask lawmakers to pass a bill allowing the state to investigate and punish companies that engage in price gouging.
The package also will include some emergency funding for the Department of Public Safety and for school districts, to help pay their higher transportation costs, Gallegos said.
The governor talked with Democratic and Republican leaders on Monday and Tuesday before deciding to call the session, the spokesman said.
House Republican Leader Ted Hobbs (search) of Albuquerque said he considered a special session unnecessary and expensive.
"I believe we could deal with the issues in the January session," said Hobbs.
The Legislature is scheduled to convene on Jan. 17 for a 30-day session.
The cost of a special session is estimated at about $42,000 a day, according to John Yaeger of the Legislative Council Service.
The last special session was in the fall of 2003 and lasted 10 days. The Legislature approved measures to toughen penalties for sex offenders and to finance highway construction.