The next governor should know research expertise from higher education is an underutilized asset for the state

Higher education inevitably will take a big chunk of time and energy for the new Governor of the State of New Mexico. There are many mouths to feed with 27 public colleges and universities spread throughout the State: three research universities, four comprehensive universities/colleges, ten branch community colleges, seven independent community colleges and three special schools. Complicated topics like funding formulas, performance funding, certificates and credentials, funding per student and program evaluations are an important part of the appropriation process. Beyond the fiscal aspects of higher education, we want to promote the concept in this opinion piece that higher education can be a valuable resource to inform key policy decisions for the new Governor. The four authors of this opinion piece are faculty at the three major research institutions (University of New Mexico, New Mexico Tech and New Mexico State University) of the State of New Mexico.

The next governor should improve our tax system and increase wages

While election season seems to highlight our nation’s political divide, most New Mexicans agree on what we’d like for our state: a strong economy with opportunity for everyone; good jobs; safe communities; and resilient families with healthy, well-educated children. We all want the best possible future for our children and the generations to come. The issue, then, is how we go about building such a state. That will be the fundamental question the new governor will need to answer. She or he will have to sell his or her vision to legislators, agency staff, and a whole host of other players in order to make it a reality.

Forget ‘Border Security’—migration is an economic development issue

For years, politicians on both sides of the aisle have made “border security” as a top campaign issue. The bipartisan obsession with “securing the border” is baffling to those of us who live in border communities. Border cities such as Las Cruces, El Paso, Brownsville, McAllen, and San Diego are already among the safest in the United States. Current rates of migration are well within the historical range over the past 50 years, and far below rates seen in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Border communities are well equipped to accommodate this migration, and, in many cases, eager to welcome asylum seekers to their communities.

Let’s create an economy that works for everyone. Right now.

Stocks are soaring. Corporate profits are at record highs. Unemployment is low. So everyone should be happy, right? The problem is, many folks aren’t for darn good reasons.

Congress should reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund

In New Mexico, it can be easy to take our public lands and beautiful, unique landscapes for granted. After all, many of us have been hunting, hiking, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors our entire lives. These traditions handed down from generation to generation instilled in us an appreciation for the land and our heritage. But on a recent trip to Rio Grande del Norte National Monument I was reminded how lucky I am and how much we stand to lose if we don’t speak up for the land we love and use. As a sportsman and videographer, I’ve been lucky enough to combine two things I’m very passionate about into a career running my own film business.

Why New Mexicans need a higher minimum wage

Hard-working families in our state are drowning. Families should never have to choose between buying healthy groceries and paying their utility bills, but they do. Kids should be focusing on their work instead of their grumbling stomachs during school, but they cannot help it when their hard-working parents can only provide one meal a day. Workers should not have to take out payday loans for exorbitant fees to afford back-to-school supplies for their kids. I’ve heard too many devastating stories about the challenges that New Mexico’s minimum-wage workers face, and I believe that hard-working New Mexicans deserve better.

Expand paid sick leave in Albuquerque

I’m one of the lucky ones. I work for Albuquerque Public Schools and I can take paid time off when I’m sick, need to go to the doctor or to care for a loved one. When my aunt was sick a few years ago, I took time off to be with her. I could pay my bills and pay my respects to an important woman in my life. Paid sick leave let me be by my aunt’s side to care for her, instead of being at work trying to focus on my job while I was really worrying about her.

On Father’s Day and every day, families belong together

As a recent college graduate returning to my home state after four years, I feel grateful to be able to celebrate Father’s Day with my family this summer. We devote time every year to celebrate our parents and all that they do for us because, as Americans, we value family. But this Father’s Day, I cannot help but think about the current immigration policies that are tearing young children away from their moms and dads and ignoring the importance of family. Our family members ground us. They foster our development, they teach us resiliency, they offer immense support, and they shape us as individuals.

Climate change’s impact on our food

There was a time when wading waist-deep into the Rio Grande in the heat of the summer’s blistering solar rays was as common as finding a wild willow tree growing by the river. But as we observe this becoming a distant memory, a new reality is emerging. A farmer friend, on his way to the river with some friends, sent me a few pictures. In it were children enjoying the river, just ankle deep, grateful even for the small reprieve. I thought of Laura Paskus’ article and the fish trying desperately to escape impending death.

DOH should acknowledge cannabis’ legitimate role in addressing opioid abuse

The New Mexico Department of Health is placing political ideology above public health by refusing to recognize the reality that cannabis offers a viable alternative to opioids (“DOH: Reports on cannabis for opioid abuse are ‘poor in quality,’ May 20). This ‘Flat Earth’ position ignores a myriad of data generated from other states, as well as from New Mexico’s own experience with medical cannabis. Population-based studies find that medical cannabis access is associated with reduced levels of opioid use, hospitalizations, and mortality. Specifically, data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported, “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.”

A pair of studies published earlier this year further finds that medical access is linked to fewer opioid prescriptions. For instance, a longitudinal analysis of opioid prescribing trends among those eligible for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage determined “that prescriptions filled for all opioids decreased by 2.11 million daily doses per year … when a state instituted any medical cannabis law.” In the second study, “State implementation of medical marijuana laws was associated with a 5.88 percent lower rate of opioid prescribing” patterns among all Medicaid fee-for-service and managed care enrollees – a high-risk population for chronic pain, opioid use disorder, and opioid overdose.