March 6, 2017

Legislature must follow New Mexico tradition of taking care of families

The seal of the state of New Mexico in the House

In New Mexico, we take care of each other. It’s just our way.

For generations, my family has made it through tough times by supporting each other.

My Grandpa Barboa was a cattle rancher in Albuquerque’s South Valley. He used to tell me stories about the times when they would have a matanza so the community could get through a tough winter or poor summer harvest.  I always love when we have our family matanzas. It is a time when we come together and celebrate each other. What my grandpa explained was something even more: a matanza is way for everyone in the community to pitch in, make food to share, and help their neighbors.

Adriann Barboa is the field director of Strong Families New Mexico.

One day, my grandpa shared a story about a woman who lived down the road. She was raising her grandchildren and there were times when he knew they didn’t have enough food to eat. Other families, like my grandpa’s, were working hard and trying to make ends meet. But they all contributed to the matazana. My grandpa would slaughter a pig and offer this. That pig would have meant either money or a month’s supply of food for his own family. Others would bring chile, wood for the fire, or homemade tortillas. Everyone gave what they could.

They worked together to prepare and preserve food for the community to share.  Then, they celebrated because in coming together and in helping each other, they found a strength and joy that lifted them all and kept their community strong.

Today, times are tough again for too many New Mexicans. Unfortunately, a matanza won’t be enough to feed the hungry, provide health care, protect our children’s education, or empower all families to succeed. But the spirit of the matanza is still strong.  I hear a lot about New Mexican values, but my grandpa and others like him acted on their values of family and community.  They cared for other New Mexicans, even when it meant slaughtering an expensive pig for the greater good of his community.

I am reminded of this in my work today for Strong Families New Mexico. As I meet with families in Bernalillo, Rio Arriba, McKinley and Dona Ana counties, people constantly say that they are willing to put in their share if it means their community can have what it needs. They want to give what they can to help others.

As the legislature and Governor Susana Martinez work to craft a budget that supports all New Mexicans, I hope that they remember our communities’  tradition of digging deep to help out.

We are facing a deep funding crisis with our schools, Medicaid health care services, our courts, and all the public agencies that are working to keep our communities safe.  We have to come together to protect New Mexico and repair the problem – a tax system that benefits the wealthy and taxes our working families the highest. Many legislative bills are being heard that would end tax loopholes, such as rolling back income tax breaks for upper-income households, responsibly taxing alcohol and tobacco products, freezing tax cuts for corporations that are mostly out of state, making sure remote Internet sellers are paying the same taxes as local businesses already do, or taxing new car sales the same way most other states do.

New Mexicans are used to – and are more than willing to – pay their fair share. Whether it’s a matanza, the offering plate at church, or paying taxes, New Mexicans will give what they can to lift up others.

I’m willing to pay my fair share; my grandpa definitely paid his fair share. Now, we call on the Legislature and the governor to support fairness in taxes so that all New Mexicans can continue our tradition of giving, sharing, and building what we need for all our familias across our state.