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This was sent as a letter to U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich. It is a joint letter from AFT NM President Stephanie Ly and NEA-NM President Betty Patterson. Senators Udall and Heinrich:
We write to you on behalf of tens of thousands of New Mexico’s public educators to urge careful consideration of the nomination of Ms. Betsy DeVos for the position of Secretary of Education by President-elect Donald Trump. It is our strong belief that a successful confirmation of Ms. DeVos would not be in the best interest of public education in the United States, nor in our State of New Mexico. Ms. DeVos has a long and well-documented history of opposing a robust system of public education in her home state of Michigan in favor of increased charter, private, and religious schools.
Trending now throughout America is an aggressive mentality that’s creating a revival of the atrocious treatment of Black people perpetrated by the American people both tangible and intangible throughout its generations. This mental pedigree sits firmly within the fabric of all systems along with the institutions of this nation. The history of Black America both past and present is not celebratory but in contrast a series of events and triumphs that occur in reaction to often heinous circumstances and/or conditions. There has never been a moment in the history of America where white life did not matter. But it is clear unspoken reality that Black Lives have never mattered to the American People.
As New Mexicans, many of us can attest to a common refrain when we talk about our most important programs: “We just don’t have the funding.” The underlying theme throughout conversations about our state’s most pressing needs is that resources are scarce and we simply don’t have enough of the pie to go around. Through our work at the State Auditor’s office, we’ve found a surprisingly different reality. While the plunging revenues certainly create a huge challenge in the near-term, the concept of long-term scarcity is more of a myth, one often perpetuated by those who control resources going back to colonial times. Over the last several years, we’ve researched three primary connections between government and economy that challenge the myth of scarcity.
Do your children or did you attend public school here in New Mexico? Do you drive on our roads? Shower with clean water? Are you thankful that our police and social workers protect our children from predators? If so, you should ask the state to stop budget cuts and to start raising the revenue necessary to fund basic public services.
The recent news that the Dow hit 20,000 bodes well for all investors—from working families with 401Ks to the beneficiaries of the state’s $15 billion Land Grant Permanent School Fund. The high volume of trading indicates that the nation’s economy is strong. It also reinforces the point that New Mexico’s permanent fund is robust. So robust that even if we increase the percentage that we take out—and invest it in early childhood care and learning services—the fund will continue to grow. For six years now legislators have attempted to pass joint resolutions that would allow New Mexico voters to decide whether to spend a bit more of their fund on early childhood services.
If you thought that somehow the flowery talk before the current legislative session about working together to solve the state’s stagnant economy and high unemployment meant that hyped-up partisan battles between the two political parties and between Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and the Democratic-controlled Legislature were a thing of the past in the Roundhouse … think again. Although the process has not melted down to a full-fledged political food fight, the recent fury over the so-called “feed bill” — which pays for the session as well as interim legislative committees — caused much animosity and led to some harsh rhetoric and partisan posturing. And that might only be a preview of battles to come in the remaining 40 days of the session. Martinez called the Legislature’s actions “political games” that showed a “lack of leadership,” claiming in a news release that Democrats “continue to protect their precious pork projects.”
The act of simply cutting state spending, without considering any revenue enhancements, can hurt New Mexico’s long-term economic performance in several ways. Important public services will be curtailed, making New Mexico a less attractive place to visit, live and start or expand a business; state contracts and spending with local businesses will decrease, hurting those businesses’ bottom lines and forcing them to lay off employees or severely cut their hours; and all employees will have less money to spend in our local communities. State policy that ignores the positive economic impact of public sector spending, a major component of which is salaries paid to public employees, is just as shortsighted as a policy that is completely dependent on it. So, too, is a state policy that fails to recognize that private sector employees deserve a raise. Pete Campos is a Democratic State Senator representing the 8th district in the Las Vegas area.
It should come as no surprise that the University of New Mexico is welcoming Milo Yiannopoulos to campus tonight. Yiannopoulous was banned from Twitter for Yiannopoulous’ and his supporters’ attacks on comedian Leslie Jones in 2016. We are NOT inviting you to this individual’s event. In fact, we are writing to make you aware of the University’s most recent actions surrounding the occasion. These actions are nothing short of egregious and incomprehensible.
Martin Heinrich is being criticized on the internet for his recent vote on prescription drug importation. The attacks have plenty of passion but not enough facts. I know something about PhRMA, drug pricing, and misguided accusations. For over 20 years I was the Chief of Staff and Committee Staff Director for Congressman Henry Waxman, who was the leading progressive House Democrat on health and environmental issues. During that time we did a series of ground-breaking investigative reports showing that big drug companies were charging Americans inexcusably higher prices than they were charging in other countries.
According to a poll conducted on the eve of the election by Latino Decisions, more than 70 percent of Latina/o/x voters in New Mexico, and throughout the country, consider it urgent that the next President and Congress take immediate action to combat air and water pollution, as well as address the negative effects of climate change. And this is also true of the community organizing led by Latina/o/x mothers and youth from Albuquerque’s International District, South Valley and Westgate. We want our decision makers to act for clean air and healthy families and communities. We also support continued and community-led advancement toward a green economy (a low-carbon, socially responsible economy where natural resources are used efficiently) that brings good-paying jobs and economic growth to the Southwest and to our country. We can create such an economy that works for all New Mexicans if we put strong families, a healthy environment and a stable economy first.
The Legislature plans to revisit the issue of allowing the rehiring of law enforcement retirees. This development could potentially agitate the current tension existing statewide between the community and law enforcement. In the reintroduction of this bill, the New Mexico public is being betrayed and threatened by the potential reinforcement of these agencies’ perpetuation of a “culture of war”—specifically an “Us vs. Them” (law enforcement vs. community) mentality.