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The best thing that may be said about Republican State Representative Rod Montoya’s recent opinion piece regarding the state budget was that it was highly misleading. While mostly rehashing tired attacks on Democrats heard during election time – and short on any specifics—his main point in writing seems to be to accuse the legislative majority of “wast[ing] time on green chile legislation” while important issues went supposedly unaddressed during the legislative session. Nothing, as they say, could be further from the truth. First of all, the Legislature did pass a balanced budget for next year, FY ’18. That budget, which now sits on the Governor’s desk, was responsible and bipartisan—at least in the Senate where it passed 34 to 4. Unlike the reckless one offered by Governor Martinez and her uber-partisan Republican helpers like Rep. Montoya in the House, it prevents any further cuts to K-12 classrooms and other key services such as law enforcement.
The most populous city in New Mexico and recognized by Forbes as the sixth best place for business and careers, Albuquerque, New Mexico has set the bar high for other cities to follow. Ranked the fifth most cost-friendly city in which to do business, it’s logical thinking to say that economically, Albuquerque is doing something right. A welcoming, growing environment for entrepreneurs and a prosperous economy that allows careers to thrive, Albuquerque is among those American cities that set an example of American greatness and fortune. As a board member of the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and an advocate for consumers, small business owners, and robust economic growth, I’m proud to call Albuquerque my home and continually see the steady influx of new opportunities arise. At the center of it all are small business leaders whose hard work and innovative minds are leading our economy to success.
Gov. Susana Martinez’s proposed threats that grabbed headlines across New Mexico are not a solution to the state’s financial difficulties. She recently claimed that “we are staring down the path of a government shutdown,” and vowed unpaid furloughs of state employees and other draconian measures to save money. None of this needs to happen. It is a reckless and unnecessary approach to our state’s and our communities’ very real challenges. All of this comes as the Governor prepares to veto a responsible, balanced $6.1 billion budget that a bipartisan Legislature passed.
What would happen if the people of America were aware that there is legislation enacted to ensure that healthcare is accessible for every citizen? My guess is that people across the nation would be outraged at the political hijinks conducted over the past two weeks. “Obamacare” was defeated this past Friday with the pulling of a House bill to repeal and replace the present healthcare law. It is now time to enforce the law of the land that provides healthcare for every American citizen: the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And it is also time to end the war against the ACA over past seven years, a war waged to retain the supremacy of white men.
As the 2017 regular legislative session ends, New Mexico finds itself in familiar territory—with no money in a slow-moving economy. The same tired rhetoric of no tax increases—a pledge made by Governor Susana Martinez since she has taken office—has led to deep cuts in essential services like education, public safety, and health care. Because we often hear the administration touting the 37 tax cuts made since Governor Richardson left office in 2011, obviously the executive believes we can cut our way to prosperity. But in reality, these cuts helped put our state in the red. Raphael Pacheco, MBA, is a Research and Policy Analyst and the State Priorities Partnership Fellow for NM Voices for Children.
Reforming New Mexico’s process for selecting and paying for public works projects, which is nearly universally criticized as inefficient and wasteful, will continue through administrative steps despite the lack of an appetite this year to enact reforms into law. Those of us who believe the state’s capital outlay process can be improved will not be deterred from pursuing statutory changes in the future, such as requirements for better vetting, complete funding and prioritization of those projects that directly improve the safety, well-being and health of New Mexicans. Pete Campos is a Democratic State Senator from Las Vegas representing District 8. We will move forward with administrative reforms, including efforts by the Department of Finance and Administration and the Legislative Finance Committee, as well as the New Mexico Municipal League and the New Mexico Association of Counties. Those entities have been working diligently to improve the process, mindful of how important capital outlay projects are to local communities, our state’s economy and the health, safety and well-being of New Mexicans.
Earlier this year, the president of the United States referred to journalists from news organizations such as the New York Times, CNN and NBC News as the “enemy of the American people.” Shortly after that, reporters from those outlets and others were barred from the White House press gaggle. As Sunshine Week dawns, New Mexico journalists can commiserate with colleagues across the country who are under fire from hostile politicians. More importantly, we can assure them that there is life outside the news conference. Sarah Gustavus is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande Chapter board and the producer of New Mexico In Focus. It has become a New Mexico tradition for gubernatorial administrations to blacklist journalists who expose stories politicians would rather keep quiet.
On Saturday night, March 11, 2017, I started a long overdue conversation on the floor of the House. For the past 14 years, New Mexico tried an experiment—we cut personal and corporate income taxes to see if jobs would flow into the state. The experiment failed. Jobs and people left the state. Revenues tumbled.
New Mexico has a unique opportunity today to accomplish two important goals for our state by simply raising taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products. First, we can substantially strengthen our children’s classrooms, which have been hit with cuts worth tens of millions of dollars since 2008. Second, we can make sure that more than 11,000 additional kids never even become smokers, and more than 10,000 current adult smokers will quit, significantly lowering overall health costs. We cannot afford not to do it. My legislation, SB 231, would increase the tax on cigarettes by $1.50 per pack, with an equivalent increase in other tobacco products including e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco.
In America, the words “In God We Trust” form the foundation of governmental and societal order. The irrevocable prominence of these words are within each and every decision made in our capitals, courts, board rooms, financial institutions and educational bodies. These words do hold the authority and form the premise of White First—Black Lives Do Not Matter. “In God We Trust” in lands of global governorship has been allowed to rule known humanity without question for many, many centuries. However, the questions that most people have always failed or been afraid to ask about this phase are, who is God?