gavel on stack of documents

We must properly fund New Mexico’s court system

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.

Roundhouse

Six ways to help solve New Mexico’s economic crisis

New Mexico faces an economic crisis—not a budget crisis—that can be solved, but not easily, quickly or cheaply. We have not recovered from the Great Recession of 2008. Wages are up slightly in New Mexico, even considering inflation, but the number of jobs is well below pre-recession levels. And the state’s population is essentially unchanged since 2010 as people in their 20s and 30s move to other states in search of work. This is all reflected in the state’s budget, which is, as expected, about the same as it was in 2008.

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Working together, we can solve New Mexico’s health care crisis

Pete Campos is a Democratic state senator who represents the state’s 8th Senate District. New Mexico’s health care crisis demands our attention. Now. No person should suffer even one day of serious illness or injury because that person cannot find or afford to pay for good health care, yet that is exactly what happens each day in New Mexico. Months-long waits for medical appointments, hours-long drives to Albuquerque or across the state’s borders once appointments are made and the worsening shortage of health professionals throughout New Mexico are becoming routine and, sadly, expected.

Photo Credit: MTSOfan cc

Dems take brunt of capital outlay vetoes

Nearly two-thirds of the 155 severance tax bond projects vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez were sponsored solely by Democrats, while only 14 projects sponsored solely by Republicans got the ax. On Wednesday, Martinez’s veto pen eliminated dollars meant to pay for capital appropriations for zoo animals, golf courses, rugby equipment, a dog park, a bicycle recycling program and more. In a sharply worded veto message, the governor explained her vetoes by slamming the Legislature for continuing the practice of earmarking dollars for pork-barrel projects while defeating proposed reforms of the system during the just-ended 30-day legislative session. Her vetoes totaled almost $8.2 million in a bill that now allocates $157.8 million in infrastructure projects around the state. Her vetoes included 17 projects of less than $10,000 and 15 projects funded at $10,000.

Photo via Flickr by Erik (HASH) Hersman

Here are the key legislative races to watch

Today is the day that candidates for state House and Senate file to say that they are, indeed, running. As candidates file their intention to run for public office, we decided to take a look forward a few months to what districts the two parties will be focusing on come November and the general elections. The top of the ticket matters. Two years ago, Republicans took the state House of Representatives for the first time in a half-century. That same election saw Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, trounce Democratic opponent Gary King by more than 14 points statewide.

Rally against repealing drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants in 2015.

REAL ID/driver’s license liveblog

The discussion in Senate Public Affairs Committee on five pieces of legislation related to REAL ID promises to be one of the more interesting discussions this legislative session and we will be liveblogging the whole thing today. The committee will look at legislation to put New Mexico in line with the federal REAL ID Act and address that the state allows those who are in the country illegally to have driver’s licenses. The bills are:

—SB 174: Driver’s License Issuance & REAL ID by Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque. —SB 216: Driver’s License Issuance & REAL ID by Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho. —SB 231: Driver’s License Issuance & REAL ID by Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas.

Members of the public lined up to speak against the Republican driver's license bill

Leave driver’s licenses alone; issue an optional REAL ID card

Pete Campos is a Democrat who represents Senate District 8. Lost amid the confusion, frustration and posturing regarding the federal government’s mandates for state driver’s licenses is an obvious solution:  create a REAL ID card for those New Mexicans who want it and who qualify for it and keep the debate over driver’s licenses for immigrants separate. No one is happy with the federal government’s decision to change the requirements to board an airplane just to fly from Albuquerque to Denver.  But, we all want a safe and secure country, and we recognize that the changes are the result of the investigation into how terrorists managed to board airplanes on September 11, 2001. It’s our job now to do what we can to help New Mexicans get the documents they need to travel by air.

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This legislative session, the main thing has to be the main thing

Pete Campos is a Democrat from Las Vegas who represents Senate District 8. For the past several years, as the holidays draw near and the legislative session looms just beyond them, I have written an article outlining the challenges facing New Mexico and trying to map out solutions to them. This year feels different. Perhaps it is because I recently retired from my full-time job and now have much more time to devote to my service as a state senator and because I continue to talk with and listen carefully to people from all over the state. Of course, as the years go by, the number of challenges we face as New Mexicans never really gets smaller, and some challenges remain year after year.

Roundhouse

Time to work wiser and smarter

State Sen. Pete Campos is a Democrat who represents the 8th Senate District in New Mexico. In early June, the New Mexico Legislature met for a one-day session to pass supplemental appropriations for some state agencies, a tax relief package and, most importantly, a $295 million capital outlay package to inject much-needed infrastructure funding into communities and projects across the state.  While it is true that a special session only became necessary because the legislature could not come to an agreement among a majority of its members and the governor, the negotiation, passage and signing of the special session bills are a prime example of how effective policymakers in New Mexico can be when we all agree on the importance of something and are willing to compromise on a solution to fix it. I am retired now, and so, since July 1, I have spent day after day traveling around New Mexico, beginning in the district I represent.  In each community I visit, and with most of the people I speak with, several recurring themes emerge.  Communities in every corner of the state, many of them small, rural ones, have educational facilities and state and local highways, bridges and roads in dire need of repair or replacement and small businesses just trying to survive.  Community leaders also repeatedly identify a need to improve infrastructure delivery for clean water, wastewater and solid waste systems and good public health care and health care facilities as important. The State of New Mexico can do a lot more to help these people and their communities!  We have a capital outlay system that begs for meaningful reform.  Millions of unspent dollars languish in state coffers that realistically are not sufficient to complete a phase or an entire project, and no other alternative exists but to claw back or revert these funds.  These funds could be put to use improving roads, schools and public water systems.  More could be done to encourage people to take advantage of free or low-cost preventive health care services, which will lead to lower health care costs and healthier lifestyles. These are a few steps we can take, some simple and others more complex, to continue assisting New Mexico with its immediate problems and simultaneously move toward solving issues that hold back our efforts to improve our health, safety and the economy.  This fundamental approach will prepare us for a more robust economy, a skilled, healthy and happy work force gainfully employed and the basis to keep our children living and working in the state.

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Pete Campos retiring from Luna Community College

State Senator Pete Campos announced plans to retire from his position as President of Luna Community College. Campos made the announcement through a release on the Luna Community College website. “It has been my pleasure to serve in a role where I have been able to make a definite improvement in the operation of the College and in the education of its students,” Campos said in the statement. “We want to thank Dr. Campos for all his service,” said Luna Community College Board Chairman Dan Romero said in a statement. “Most recently, he guided the college through our national accreditation and has moved our nursing program forward.