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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.
There were much more than just candidates for president on the ballot this year. The very values upon which this country was founded were on the ballot. Values like inclusion, equality of opportunity, and equal protection under the law. For the winning candidate, this presidential campaign was not about public policy, partisanship or even personality. It was about fear.
New Mexicans are desperate for some good economic news (see the grasping for straws over the Facebook “success”). Paul Gessing is the president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, a libertarian-oriented think tank based in New Mexico. Unfortunately, the path forward involves making hard and politically-difficult moves that involve standing up to special interest groups whether they be the unions, the film industry, or business advocates for more “corporate welfare” like LEDA and JTIP (to name just a few). Unfortunately, the free market path to reform isn’t going to be the first choice of a Council stocked with dozens of politicians and interest group representatives. So, according to today’s Albuquerque Journal, here is what they came up with followed by a brief statement added by the author:
Expanding broadband access: This CAN be done by removing regulatory barriers, but we know they are really looking for tax dollars (that we don’t have);
Marketing New Mexico to retirees: An obvious idea because retirees don’t NEED jobs and New Mexico has nice weather.