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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MST

Governor signs $1B spending boost, vetoes small projects

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed into law a $1 billion annual budget increase for state government to shore up spending on public education, health care and infrastructure while boosting salaries for bureaucrats, state police and public school educators. She signed it Wednesday. The $8.5 billion general fund budget boosts spending by 14% for the fiscal year starting July 1. She also signed a crime bill that expands the monitoring of criminal defendants before trail, and vetoed a $50 million wish-list from legislators of small projects. Lujan Grisham declined to sign a bill with extensive pay increases for Supreme Court justices without comment.


Native Americans fret as report card released on 2020 census

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The U.S. Census Bureau will release reports Thursday that show how good of a job the agency believes it did in counting every U.S. resident during the 2020 census. Native American tribes and advocates launched well-financed campaigns to ensure a more accurate count. Despite that, they believe those living on about 300 reservations across the country will be undercounted again, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 5% of that population was missed during the 2010 census, the highest of any race group. The Census Bureau will release two reports assessing the national count based on race, Hispanic origin, sex and age.


Indian Health Service head nominated amid tough challenges

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — President Joe Biden has nominated veteran health administrator Roselyn Tso to direct the federal Indian Health Service. The White House made the announcement Wednesday. Tso is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, which encompasses parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. She most recently served as director of the health service's Navajo region. The agency falls under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and delivers health care to more than 2.5 million Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Tso's nomination comes amid daunting health challenges for tribes that disproportionately were affected by the coronavirus pandemic.


Mexican wildlife managers release 2 pairs of wolves

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — U.S. wildlife managers say their counterparts in Mexico have released two pairs of endangered Mexican gray wolves south of the U.S. border as part of an ongoing reintroduction effort. The wolves came from the Ladder Ranch in southern New Mexico and were placed in two areas in the state of Chihuahua. Officials say the wolf population in Mexico now numbers about 45. In the United States, releases of wolves have been taking place in Arizona and New Mexico for two decades. The most recent count showed at least 186 wolves in the wild in the two states. The results of a new survey are due soon.


Man extradited from Mexico to face trial in Roswell killing

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — A man sought in the 2020 strangulation killing of a New Mexico woman has been extradited to the United States after being arrested in Mexico. Prosecutors say 34-year-old Jorge Rico-Ruvira will stand trial in Roswell in the killing of Isela Sanchez, the 27-year-old mother of his young son. An Amber Alert was issued for the son, Osiel Ernesto Rico, when the father fled to Mexico, but officials announced last year that the boy had been found safe. Rico-Ruvira is represented by the state public defender's office. One of the attorney's on his legal team, Judi Caruso, said in a statement that people should not rush to judgment.


Cowboys for Trump co-founder won't seek reelection

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Cowboys for Trump co-founder Couy Griffin says he won't run for reelection for southern New Mexico's Otero County commission or seek other public office in the 2022 election cycle. As a crucial registration deadline passed, Griffin said Tuesday that he has lost faith in the political system and the ability to effect change through elected office, though he said he will continue to be vocal. Griffin says his decision to sit out the election was not tied to his legal defense against misdemeanor criminal charges stemming from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Griffin denies allegations that he knowingly entered barricaded areas of the Capitol grounds.


Changing snowfall makes it harder to fight fire with fire

DECKERS, Colo. (AP) — Thinning the dense stands of trees across millions of acres of U.S. forestlands is a central piece of the Biden administration's $50 billion plan to protect against deadly firestorms that have been exploding across western states. But the same warming trends that worsen wildfires are challenging efforts to guard against them. In Colorado, climate change means snow is not always on the ground when needed so that crews can safely burn off debris piles and vegetation to help keep future wildfires from becoming catastrophic. Snow cover now disappears about two weeks earlier on average across the U.S. than it did 50 years ago.


Police: Man killed after chase tied to slaying of spa worker

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police say a man killed when shot by police after a Feb. 25 pursuit has been identified as the person who killed a spa worker 10 days earlier. According to Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina, evidence from fingerprints, surveillance video and a reported admission by Raphael Marquez to another person tied Marquez to the killing at the Canna Spa Massage. The victim's identity hasn't been released. Marquez was shot near Belen during an encounter with law enforcement officers following a pursuit on Interstate 25. Police said Marquez also was a person of interest in a Dec. 24 homicide and that evidence connects him to that killing.