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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.
The following is the prepared text of Gov. Susana Martinez’s 2017 State of the State Address. Lieutenant Governor; Senate President Pro Tempore; our new House Speaker; Democratic and Republican leaders; esteemed members of the New Mexico Legislature; honorable members of the judiciary; former New Mexico governors; tribal governors; distinguished guests; the State’s first gentleman, my husband, Chuck Franco; my beautiful sister, Lettie and, my fellow New Mexicans. It is an honor to join you for the State of the State Address and open this legislative session. Related: Martinez calls for unity
Over the last six years, Republicans and Democrats have chosen to make tough decisions. We’ve resisted taking the easy way out.
The timing of the release of WalletHub’s Report on Racial Progress in America 2017 is impeccable, correlating with the first African American president’s farewell address and the annual observation of the birth, life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The report lists the state of New Mexico as 12th-best in “racial integration” between blacks and whites and sixth-best in the level of racial progress realized over time. These occurrences seemingly unveil an opportunity unique to New Mexico as well as its black community when you consider that our state currently resembles the racially diverse culture and populace that the entire nation will maintain within the next 20 or so years. The opportunity then becomes to lead in creating a roadmap on how to achieve the hope of our Constitution to be a “perfect union”—complete with best practices and real-time experiences for the remaining 49 states. Furthermore, as we take part in annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities, it behooves the New Mexican Black community to swift our focus, energy and intellect on engaging activity that will make our community essential to and at the center of this transformation. Elder Michael Jefferson is a minister at Procession Ministries in Albuquerque.
New Mexico’s courts face a funding crisis that threatens to undermine the judiciary’s ability to protect our rights by delivering timely justice. We must act now to prevent further damage. As Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Daniels recently told a legislative committee, “We are now basically on life support through the end of this fiscal year.” Pete Campos is a Democratic state senator who represents the Las Vegas area. In courthouses across the state, New Mexicans can see the corrosive effects of budget cuts and underfunding of the judiciary. Most magistrate courts are closed to the public for at least half a day each week because the courts are unable to fill vacant staff positions.
The irony that this post will be shared on Facebook isn’t missed on me, but hear me out:
Arguably the most important responsibility government has to its constituents is providing equitable opportunity for self-sufficiency. Meaning that it is the duty of those in charge to ensure that everyone has the tools they need to be highly productive individuals who can work collectively towards a single goal: to create prosperous, thriving communities. Giving unneeded tax incentives to one of the most profitable companies in the world does little to attain that shared goal. New Mexico needs to start investing in us. Raphael Pacheco is a Policy and Research Analyst and State Priorities Partnership Fellow at New Mexico Voices for Children.
Sound government regulation requires a responsible balance between industry and environment. As the 24th Governor of New Mexico I never ascribed to the notion that the promotion of both was mutually exclusive and I maintain that assertion today. At the end of the day industry and conservationists – operating within parameters set forth by state, local, and federal governments – are equal partners in preserving and protecting our natural resources. One of the most precious natural resources on the planet is water. THE most precious natural resource for New Mexicans is our water supply.
At age 18, I attended a party where police found tiny amounts of marijuana. Without funds for an attorney, I accepted “deferred probation.” It has followed me my entire life. I graduated from college, law, and graduate school, yet I had to endure a hearing to ascertain my fitness to practice. It also caused employment rejection. Later as assistant county attorney in El Paso and elected district attorney in Willacy County, Texas, I routinely dismissed pot cases.
Today is Giving Tuesday, a day devoted to donating to worthwhile causes. As we have seen in the past few months, high-quality journalism is definitely a worthwhile cause. Newsrooms around the country are shrinking, with even the biggest newspapers cutting staff. As a non-profit news outlet, we do not accept advertising but instead rely on donors to fund our journalism. We don’t have the patronage of an eccentric billionaire who is a fan of journalism, we don’t have a corporation underwriting our journalism and directing what we can and can’t write.
My father and mother raised my four siblings and me to appreciate the beauty of our environment by hiking, mountain climbing, and visiting parks and other natural sites. At the time I didn’t think much about it but when I reflect back on those outings I realize that there weren’t that many people who looked like us visiting or working in the parks. One of the reasons was that the Hispanic population in Oregon was pretty small back then, but another reason was likely that Hispanics didn’t feel the same connection to our public lands that my family did. The good news is that this has changed somewhat but during recent visits to some national parks my wife and I noticed that the diversity of our nation is still not reflected in these places. Organizations like our National Park Service still need to be much bolder in reaching out to racial and ethnic groups.
What we do next may very well determine the fate of our state. Will we continue the divisive, dismissive and disingenuous rhetoric of recent months to seek political victory merely for the sake of winning? Or will we thoughtfully discuss solutions to the complex problems we face so that New Mexico might have the educated and motivated workforce that employers desire; so that millennials might stay in New Mexico or, even better, move here from elsewhere; so that the state’s chronically high poverty, crime and unemployment rates might finally drop; so that tax revenue to the treasury might increase; and so that we might spend the money necessary to improve our schools, roads and bridges, public safety and health programs, and cultural amenities Will we create a cycle of prosperity rather than continue a cycle of poverty? Making the right choice is easy; actually acting on it will be hard. This will be especially true after this election season, as our leaders must set aside personal feelings and move past the misstatements that marked the campaigns in favor of an honest, open discussion. We cannot fix a long-term imbalance between state revenue and expenditures by scraping together unspent money from various accounts any better than a family living on the edge of poverty can achieve prosperity by holding a yard sale. We cannot reduce New Mexico’s perpetually high crime rate by putting criminals who have already committed crimes in jail for longer periods of time. We cannot create jobs without social and educational systems that create good workers. It’s time for the difficult discussion we’ve delayed for years: How can New Mexico raise the money it needs to improve the education our children receive, both at home and in school, divert our young people from a life of crime toward a life of financial security and civic involvement, and support the economy and quality of life we desire? Properly addressing early childhood development, child abuse, drug addiction, alcohol dependency, mental illness, obesity and the needs of the elderly, our veterans and those with special needs—all of which is expensive—is paramount to making New Mexico a great place to live and work.
Now that the unthinkable (for me and most of my friends, and the pundits) has happened, and after the initial shock, I am seeking a few things to be hopeful about in a Trump presidency. First, I remind myself that before he became a Republican and Christian and Conservative a few months ago, he was just a playboy Democrat man-about-town businessman. Evidently not a great one, judging from his bankruptcy record and presumably from his never-to-be-revealed tax returns, but a guy who hopefully prefers that he and his buildings survive, above-sea-level, in a world of clean air, water and livable climate. Jim Terr is a singer/songwriter, documentary and film producer and satirist raised in Las Vegas, NM. So I assume that two-thirds of his bluster and his positions were just that and that he will find a way to walk back much of his pro-gun, anti-abortion, jail-Hillary, anti-immigrant, pro-right-wing-Supreme-Court rhetoric and be forgiven his inconsistency, as he has been so far, by his Faithful.