Give states freedom on marijuana

State-level cannabis legalization has become a sensitive issue in recent years. As states like Colorado, Nevada, California, and Washington vote to make recreational marijuana use legal, debate has intensified in New Mexico over whether to do the same. The marijuana debate is interesting in itself, but it also raises important constitutional questions. Should the federal government leave the cannabis question to the states? The Rio Grande Foundation supports common sense, transparent, regulatory systems for businesses.

Ortiz y Pino

Gov. Martinez chose unnecessary cuts to Medicaid

Most of the attention on the results of the 2017 special session has focused on the dangerously thin margin between revenue and expenditures the governor’s red pencil actions left our State facing for the coming year. Projections at the time were that New Mexico would have less than one half of one percent (each percent of a $6 billion budget is $60 million) as cash reserves available if tax collections dipped or unanticipated critical spending was required. Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino is a Democrat who represents the 12th state senate district. But as bad as that situation is, there is another consequence of Governor Susana Martinez’s actions which has left most legislators baffled: her deliberate rejection of at least $120 million in federal Medicaid money that would have flowed into that program if she hadn’t vetoed a sensible, thoroughly-vetted “provider fee” that the Hospital Association had voluntarily put on the table. The hospitals of the state are not nuts.

Why it should bother you to say ‘Happy Juneteenth Day’

Dateline—This past June 19, 2017 marked the 152nd year that the state of Texas announced the abolition of slavery. Juneteenth is a holiday that commemorates the official emancipation of Negro slaves from the Confederate south. Those familiar with history but unfamiliar with this history may be wondering why it took an additional two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation for the Negro slave to be freed in all the Confederate States. The answer is simple: The “white establishment,” particularly in the form of government, has always dealt with the dark-skinned creature ambiguously. Therefore, I get it, and I even understand why it should bother you to say “Happy Juneteenth Day.” Actually, I along with many others of the black community would much rather you don’t offer a meaningless pleasantry and instead quote Gil Scott Heron, who said, “The Government You Have Elected is Inoperative” to begin your acknowledgement of your current and historic cruel treatment of black humanity.

When resisting Trump, let’s all do better

For the last five months I’ve woken up furious every morning as the news comes on describing Donald Trump’s failures. Taking basic health care away from millions. Insulting our nation’s friends while siding with dictators. Ripping immigrant families apart for no reason. Discriminating against people for how they pray.

Black and voting Democratic: Not so fast

The New Mexico electoral landscape is taking shape to the extent that early indicators are suggesting a clear change of power. Republicans have ruled the state for the majority of the last eight years. However, in these upcoming elections the New Mexico Democratic Party can potentially end the nightmare here in the Land of Enchantment that is unfolding in earnest for the rest of the nation. The question swirling throughout the Black community is, does it remain loyal to a Democratic Party that is failing to champion their interests, concerns and placing the future of all Black Americans at risk? For example, since the confirmation of the new United States attorney general, the U.S. Department of Justice has relented on a commitment to reducing and preventing excessive use of force by law enforcement, reforming the justice system and reducing the number of incarcerated Blacks.

A hope that the next secretary of education will embrace real change

Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, is often quoted for saying “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” This has been used as motivation in all forms of contests to gain an edge on competitors. Most people do not realize, however, what Coach Lombardi actually meant. It was not about winning at all costs—ignoring the human spirit or looking at the scoreboard as the ultimate measure of success. In an interview late in life, Lombardi said about his winning quote that “I wished I’d never said the thing… I meant the effort.

Public lands matter: BLM should protect Otero Mesa

Southern New Mexico is blessed with a rich heritage of public lands, and should have a strong voice in the discussion about how to protect and manage those public lands. Right now, we have an opportunity to guide land-use decisions so that they weigh and balance the needs of all stakeholders: a Bureau of Land Management Resource Management Plan (RMP), which includes Otero Mesa. A draft RMP is expected this year, and by using our voices we can call on the BLM to use all of the tools at their disposal to create a balanced plan that adequately protects the Otero Mesa landscape. Bill Soules is a Democratic member of the Senate from Las Cruces representing District 37. Otero Mesa contains the largest and wildest Chihuahuan Desert grassland left in America.

No more cuts to our classrooms. Not one single cent.

Public education in New Mexico is surely at a crossroads today. For the past eight years our state economy has been stuck in permanent recession mode, and that resulted in constant trimming and cuts to classroom budgets. Now, a combination of proposed deep federal cuts and indifference from Gov. Susana Martinez raises real questions about the quality of future learning. Luckily, there are champions for education in the Legislature who drew the line on any more cuts to schools in the recent special session. It may be the best ray of hope for our children’s future.

Invest in New Mexico’s future

A prosperous new future for New Mexico starts with investing in education. In recent decades, our state has kept college tuition lower than our neighboring states, supported programs like the Lottery Scholarship, and made sure community colleges, branch campuses, and tribal universities can serve communities across our state. All of that is threatened, however, as the state budget process is politicized and funding for higher education is held hostage. When you look at examples of state disinvestment in higher education across the nation, you see that cutting budgets for higher education leads directly to tuition increases, which are essentially tax hikes on students and their families. At a time when we need to be investing in the next generation of New Mexico leaders and innovators, we cannot afford to make our state’s college students foot the bill for short-sighted decisions.

Budget fix coming soon for colleges, universities; time to renew efforts to create jobs

Funding for New Mexico’s colleges and universities, which was vetoed by the governor following this year’s regular legislative session, will soon be restored, ending the confusion and consternation that has bedeviled students and faculty for months. The Legislature, which will either restore funding for higher education in the special session or win in court to overturn the governor’s veto of its funding, will return its attention to creating jobs and repairing New Mexico’s ailing economy. As a retired college president and, before that, a public school superintendent, I understand the problems our colleges and universities are facing with absolutely no funding as of July 1. Students are reconsidering plans to enroll; professors, instructors and support staff have no assurance that they will have jobs after July 1; and the reputation of New Mexico’s higher education system suffers across the country. The only good news is that the Legislature is committed to restoring funding for our colleges and universities — without any strings attached.