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It’s back to school time in New Mexico. But throughout the summer three big education-related headlines have framed education policy issues that will impact our school children this year and for years to come. The recently-completed court hearing as to whether New Mexico’s education system is “adequate” and whether the courts should attempt to force legislators to spend as much as an extra $600 million on K-12; Sen. Mimi Stewart, a liberal Democrat and union supporter spoke at an education-related conference over the summer and offered some unvarnished truths about New Mexico’s education woes including “We don’t know how to teach kids from poverty.” PARCC scores were released. The test may be controversial, but it, like most other objective education measuring tools finds New Mexico’s education system to be lacking. In particular, PARCC exposed the shortcomings of the State’s largest district, Albuquerque Public Schools (APS).
Let’s talk about coal, clean energy and activism. It’s a subject important to most progressives at some level as we recognize the science showing humans are involved in global climate change. We all hope for a cleaner, better future for our children, and that maybe we can leave this planet a little better than how it was when we inherited it. Whatever title you give yourself – progressive, liberal, Democrat, environmentalist, etc. – those of use on the left side of the spectrum pride ourselves in being consumers of facts.
The title presents a question that America, one hundred fifty four years after enacting the Emancipation Proclamation, continues to display a stern resistance to answer. Since the end of the Civil War, an oppressive culture with the complete social advantage to enact policies, procedures and regulations to support as well as enforce its agenda has brutally dominated this nation’s black population. The Democratic Party is introducing to the nation their agenda for America, themed “A Better Deal.” Any deal offered by the American government and/or its political parties intended to improve the quality of life for the citizenry which does not contain an infallible concerted effort to deconstruct race in America will not and cannot be consider as an “art,” or “new” and definitely not a “better” deal. This statement is specifically true for Black America. However, the truth this nation must now accept without the effective dismantlement of the construct of race that the ideal democracy crafted within the words of the constitution will never become reality for any American.
For over seven years straight, Republicans in Washington have cheered shortcomings in our health care system and blamed the Affordable Care Act for every problem under the premise that they would do better if put in charge. It made for great bumper stickers and campaign promises to repeal the law, but the trouble is that their opposition to the ACA has been more about politics than it was about actual policy or plans to do better. Just because it made for a good applause line, doesn’t mean that it’s an actual solution. In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has told us that repealing the ACA doesn’t solve a thing and actually kicks 32 million people off their health care plan. Nobody should support that.
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.
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.
Camping is one of this nation’s great equalizers. Whether you camp with the latest, most expensive gear, or you hang a tarp and sleep in the bed of a pickup truck, there is a camping style to fit most every budget. It continues to be, for many families, one of the cheapest ways to vacation and enjoy the great outdoors. Camping is becoming an equalizer in a different way, as more and more racial and ethnic minorities are pitching tents. A recent survey showed that of the one million U.S. households that went camping for the first time in 2016, nearly 40 percent were either Hispanic (13 percent), African American (12 percent) or Asian American (14 percent).
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.
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.
In 2014, NASA scientists published their discovery of a methane “hot spot” hovering over New Mexico’s San Juan Basin. The 2,500-square-mile methane cloud is the largest area of elevated methane concentration ever measured in the U.S., and is so big scientists can spot it from space. While some have tried to debate the cause of the hot spot, it is more than mere coincidence that the San Juan Basin is one of the most productive natural gas fields in North America, and that oil and gas development is the leading industrial cause of methane emissions nationally. Manmade methane emissions are an urgent concern for scientists and policy makers since they are responsible for about a quarter of current global warming, which is why Scientists from NASA and NOAA embarked on a series of studies to try to pinpoint the source of New Mexico’s methane cloud. Jon Goldstein is the Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund In 2016 NASA researchers concluded that many of the region’s highest-emitting sources were associated with the region’s oil and gas production and distribution infrastructure.