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The governor vetoed the entire higher education budget totaling almost $3 billion, along with the entire budget for the Legislature, to force lawmakers back to Santa Fe for a special legislative session to redo the state spending plan for the budget year that starts on July 1 and to overhaul the gross receipts tax system. She says she is against raising taxes on New Mexicans but willing to allow some new revenue to support the budget. We’ve seen “no tax” pledges coupled with deeps cuts to higher education in other states and how distressing the combination has been to students, families, and communities. Patricia Lundstrom is a Democratic state Representative from the 9th District. For years, a number of governors have pitted higher education against corporate and other tax cuts to spectacular and devastating results.
When I was elected, I promised that I would go to Santa Fe to work for New Mexicans—not big government. It’s disturbing that some in the Legislature think that we need to grow state government even more and tax New Mexicans in the middle of a budget crisis. This last session, Democrat legislators decided to take the easy way out of the budget crisis and raise taxes on working New Mexicans instead of tightening state governments belt. While they wasted time debating bills on winter holiday songs, state dances and, yes, even Bigfoot our state’s financial situation got even worse. Now, we’re staring down a potential government shutdown meaning that Motor Vehicle Division offices and state parks might have to close. Rick Little is a Republican state representative from Chaparral, representing the 53rd district.
Albuquerque attorney Morris J. Chavez opined in NM Political Report on April 5 that e-cigarette production, sale, and use should be supported, giving as primary reasons 1) they’re “less dangerous” than smoking tobacco, and 2) their sale in Albuquerque is an important, growing business, which should be encouraged, not regulated. Dr. Lance Chilton is a pediatrician from Albuquerque. As a pediatrician long in practice in Albuquerque, I write to give a differing opinion. It is true that throughout New Mexico, “vaping”—the use of liquid nicotine vaporized by a small device—is becoming more and more common. In a recent survey of high school students throughout the state, the Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey, more than twice as many 9th to 12th graders were current e-cigarette users (24.0 percent) as cigarette users (11.4 percent) and 54 percent of New Mexico high schoolers had tried the products.
Earlier this month the American journey to inclusion, equality and justice suffered yet another instance of obstruction and resistance with Gov. Susana Martinez’s veto of legalization aimed to eradicate institutionalized racism (SB 269) beginning with state agencies. The perspective, in regards to the existence and effects of race in both the state and the nation, held by Martinez and New Mexican conservatives along with many influenced by their leadership, is utterly amazing. It only works to heighten animosity. The task of undoing racism is not a task New Mexicans are incapable of accomplishing but rather undoing racism is a task New Mexicans are unwilling to do. This insistent denial and attitude of superiority is crippling any genuine progression of equality within humanity, specifically in these United States of America.
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.