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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?
I’m a political scientist, an advocate, a sister, a wife, a daughter, and a mother. I have a toddler boy and, come next month, I’ll add a little girl to the list of people that call me mama. Like many parents, I believe that raising kind, honest, empathetic, and civic-minded kids is the most important thing I will ever do, and raising kids who believe that everyone—regardless of gender, color or ability—should have respect and opportunity is a very big part of that for me. It is important to me that my kids—both my daughter and my son—know that being called a feminist is something to aspire to and that the 19th Amendment is a hallowed one. Last year’s very contentious presidential campaign put the treatment of women—among other groups of people—in the spotlight.
The methane mitigation industry has been a bright spot in an otherwise tough New Mexico economic climate. These are the companies that help develop and deploy the technologies that make our oil and gas industry more efficient and profitable. It’s not sexy, but it’s what drives a lot of the high tech economy – just the sort of start-ups and jobs that New Mexico so sorely needs. The Governor’s support of repealing the BLM Methane Waste Rule would threaten these valuable jobs. Oil and gas companies wasting methane isn’t just bad for the climate and our health, it’s also a huge economic inefficiency.
Trending now throughout America is an aggressive mentality that’s creating a revival of the atrocious treatment of Black people perpetrated by the American people both tangible and intangible throughout its generations. This mental pedigree sits firmly within the fabric of all systems along with the institutions of this nation. The history of Black America both past and present is not celebratory but in contrast a series of events and triumphs that occur in reaction to often heinous circumstances and/or conditions. There has never been a moment in the history of America where white life did not matter. But it is clear unspoken reality that Black Lives have never mattered to the American People.
As New Mexicans, many of us can attest to a common refrain when we talk about our most important programs: “We just don’t have the funding.” The underlying theme throughout conversations about our state’s most pressing needs is that resources are scarce and we simply don’t have enough of the pie to go around. Through our work at the State Auditor’s office, we’ve found a surprisingly different reality. While the plunging revenues certainly create a huge challenge in the near-term, the concept of long-term scarcity is more of a myth, one often perpetuated by those who control resources going back to colonial times. Over the last several years, we’ve researched three primary connections between government and economy that challenge the myth of scarcity.
Do your children or did you attend public school here in New Mexico? Do you drive on our roads? Shower with clean water? Are you thankful that our police and social workers protect our children from predators? If so, you should ask the state to stop budget cuts and to start raising the revenue necessary to fund basic public services.
The recent news that the Dow hit 20,000 bodes well for all investors—from working families with 401Ks to the beneficiaries of the state’s $15 billion Land Grant Permanent School Fund. The high volume of trading indicates that the nation’s economy is strong. It also reinforces the point that New Mexico’s permanent fund is robust. So robust that even if we increase the percentage that we take out—and invest it in early childhood care and learning services—the fund will continue to grow. For six years now legislators have attempted to pass joint resolutions that would allow New Mexico voters to decide whether to spend a bit more of their fund on early childhood services.