January 1, 2019

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s inaugural address

Laura Paskus

Rep. Michelle Lujan-Grisham

The following remarks are those as prepared for delivery.

From this moment on, the podiums in this state are all exactly this tall.

Thank you.

Thank you all for being here. I want to especially thank my beautiful family for their unyielding love and support – Erin, Taylor, my brother Gregory, and the first Manny.

My mother, Sonja, could not be here today — an incredible woman, an incredible role model — but I would not be here today without her. Thank you, Mom.

I want to also thank our brilliant new lieutenant governor, Howie Morales, and his family, for their eagerness to come along on this ride with us.

I want to thank Gov. Susana Martinez for her service to our state and her graciousness during this transition.

I want to thank Sen. Jeff Bingaman for serving as our transition chairman.

I am humbled to be in the presence of so many incredible leaders, who have chosen to join me on stage today. Thank you to Sen. Tom Udall for being here. Thank you to Congressman Ben Ray Lujan. I want to recognize Gov. Toney Anaya, Gov. Garrey Carruthers; our secretary of state, Maggie Toulouse Oliver; our attorney general, Hector Balderas; our new land commissioner, Stephanie Garcia Richard; our new state auditor, Brian Colon; our chief justice, Judith Nakamura; and, of course, our distinguished Senate Majority Leader, Peter Wirth, and our distinguished House Speaker, Brian Egolf.

And, most importantly, I want to thank you all.

My fellow New Mexicans:

Standing before you today is an honor and a privilege so far beyond what any one person can articulate. So I want to talk about something we all share in this moment.

There is a choice before us — all of us. We have had high hopes before. I want to show you how this moment will be different. I want to show you how we can take prosperous expectations and turn them into prosperous reality. I want to show you that we can prioritize the miles of agreement we share over the inches that separate us. I want you to believe, as I do, that our perseverance will triumph over pessimism.

The choice we face today forces us to stand and deliver on our conviction that we can, now, build something better — together, and only together.

We have an obligation, now, to not only dream but be accountable to our aspirations.

And we have, right now, the power to decide what we will become.

Together, and beginning this moment, we can choose to dramatically broaden our understanding of what New Mexico can be; we can choose to comprehensively reimagine this state.

The status quo will not stand.

Because we believe in a very different New Mexico.

And together we will find the courage to create the promise of that tomorrow for our children and their children. We will have the core strength to stay the course and stand as one when our resolve is challenged.

We will go big. Really big. Together.

I have, in my life, found my strength in our numbers, in the people working alongside me. I have been driven by the chance to do the hard work and do it well. I invite you to see it this way now.

I think we are all here today because we know the stories about how this state has failed so many of its children, how we have relinquished control of our economy, how our educators and first responders get lip service instead of a raise — that’s just not who we are.

That might be the status quo, but we will not saddle another generation with the same-old. We can and will solve the problems we face — for a lifetime.

We are not blind to the challenges, but we are not daunted by them. We can deliver. This has always been true.

I’m not going to stand here and talk about the bad statistics or bad management in the past.

This state has suffered from a lack of investment, yes, but also a lack of imagination.

On the campaign trail, we saw how this is changing. Over the past two years, Howie and I saw, first-hand, a remarkable revolution taking place in every corner of this state, a revolution of attitude. No matter where we traveled, no matter who we were speaking with, we saw an awakening. We saw the burning desire for something different, but also, now, the willingness to be a part of it. We met people who are excited about a radically different way of doing business, people who know courageous commitment is the way to tear out of the quicksand.

Whether it was educators, students, social workers, firefighters, police officers, small business-men and -women, folks who go to city council meetings or legislative hearings, or just someone who leads the conversation around the dinner table, we met New Mexicans with the beginnings of a brand new vision.

The people in this room, in this city, in this state are ready to reimagine what New Mexico can be, and they are willing to step into the arena and make it a reality.

New Mexicans are ready and willing to do the work, to be a full and active part of a total transformation.

I have seen a true New Mexican optimism. I met New Mexicans who know, deep down, and are ready to scream out loud, that this is not the way it has to be, that I am ready to roll up my sleeves and build something better.

And now we choose to seize this opportunity — together, and only together.

We will create a New Mexico where we finally invest in our children, because every single one of our kids deserves the best possible head start.

We will create a New Mexico where workers, no matter their wage, are treated like human beings, and where workers who are paid the least are paid more starting now.

A New Mexico where students and young adults can find fulfilling, high-paying work.

Where students and young adults from elsewhere are packing up the U-Haul to come and work here.

Where we protect our children, our most vulnerable children, and we stop those who would do them harm before they get the chance.

Where we create new industries and, for the first time ever, we will control our economic destiny.

Where we recognize that it’s not enough to just say we believe in science  — that we have to be aggressive and act to address a global warming crisis that will have an effect on this world and this state within our lifetime.

Where we recognize our environment as our legacy and greatest resource.

Where we hold up our educators as the foundation of our communities, and we pay them like it.

Where we hold up our police officers and firefighters as the keystone of our neighborhoods, and we pay them like it.

Where we are the national leader on equal pay for women.

Where we are a national example of innovation in improved delivery of quality, affordable health care.

Where we are the national example of what a clean energy revolution looks like.

Where we do not tolerate poverty — not for one more day.

And where we show this country and the world what it looks like when a state commits to doing the work to transform itself, from the ground up, without losing what we already have.

Today I’m thinking about my Dad, Buddy Lujan. My dad was a dentist. He was one of the first dentists to bring public health services to Northern New Mexico communities. Communities where people don’t have access to the basic health care they need, let alone dental care. My Dad offered dental care to New Mexicans who were struggling to make ends meet and children with disabilities. He had a dental chair in our garage. He never turned anyone away from that chair. He went above and beyond for his patients, for his neighbors, for anyone who needed it.

And I still meet people today who tell me, Your Dad was there for me, I wish I could thank him again.

Today I’m thinking about Annette, a single mom in Albuquerque, raising preschoolers. She’s going back to school. Because of the way her benefits work, she’s sometimes forced to choose between buying food and paying for housing. Her extended family wraps around her, they step up to help provide food security. But Annette deserves so much better from this state.

Today I’m thinking about Chris, another single mom, a small business owner, who doesn’t qualify for child care through CYFD. She has a tremendous support system of support, family and friends, who help care for her children so she can keep her business afloat. But Chris deserves so much better.

These are examples of the strength and resilience of our neighbors, who have hope in their hearts, who operate from a place of love, who do everything they can every day to make this state a better place for the people around them.

But Annette, and Chris, and every New Mexican, deserves a stable environment. Every New Mexican deserves a state that is with you every step of the way.

A state where the safety net doesn’t fail you. Where, instead, it raises you up.

We will create that New Mexico. A state where every child, every family has everything they need every single day to succeed. Because this moment demands it. This is a time for action, and we can make a real, positive difference in the lives of every single New Mexican.

In order to enact this transformation, this reimagined New Mexico, we need both the right vision of our shared values and the right trajectory.

On the campaign trail, you might’ve heard us talk about a moonshot — a moonshot for our state’s public education. Well, there’s only one way there.

Aim high.

Aim high and we will have pre-kindergarten for every three- and four-year old New Mexico child.

Aim high and we will have social workers, caregivers, comfort and safety in every home in this state where it is needed.

Aim high and we will make sure underpaid state workers and educators are underpaid no more, starting right now.

Aim high and there will be a great job for every New Mexican willing and able to work.

I’ve been in the arena most of my life. And I’m not afraid to stumble. But as long as we endeavor, every day, to work as hard as we can, to put everything we have into creating this better future, we cannot fail.

That I am standing here before you is living proof that hard work just works. I have never accepted the answer ‘no,’ never relented because the task might’ve seemed like a bit too much. And now, together, we will do the work. We will be tenacious.

We will not quit until we have delivered the investment our public schools, our teachers and our children deserve, and, quite frankly, have always deserved. We will not quit until we have truly revolutionized public education in New Mexico. We will install an Early Childhood Education Department; we will, all of us together, make the conscientious choice and pull a responsible pinch of additional money from our Permanent School Fund to give our children the right start they deserve; we will rebuild our school buildings and we will rebuild the morale of our educators and our students.

Yes, it is a tall order, and I demand it. We are worthy of it, and we are capable of achieving it.

There is no more time to lose. There is no argument to be had, frankly, about whether we can afford it. The point is, we can’t afford not to.

I reject the false choice of today’s children or tomorrow’s budget. We must dramatically increase our Pre-K and educational investments today and provide sustainable revenue for the long term. For the first time in years, we have a checkbook to go with our credit card, we can afford it, and we know the return on these investments is a generation of children and families transformed, a generation after that and a generation after that — a better future, built by us, together, starting now.

Setting aside that it’s the smart thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. And I will not rest until it is done.

We will finally, finally, be economically proactive. As world economies turn to clean energy, we will embrace our destiny as a global leader — and in the process we will put New Mexicans to work.

Our film industry can be the greatest and most lucrative state media business in the entire country. With Netflix in Albuquerque and moviemakers in California recognizing our world-class crew base and brilliantly talented homegrown writers, performers and filmmakers, we will take off the shackles and let it rip — and in the process we will put New Mexicans to work. That means not just raising the cap, but eliminating it and paying the backlog promptly. We will send a clear signal that we are open for business and will double film and television production in coming years.

We will raise the minimum wage, taking a step toward an economy that works for everyone, not just the folks who sign the front of the check.

We will buy New Mexican, so our state government isn’t paying millions to out-of-state vendors for services offered by one of our neighbors in our own communities.

We will make a responsible investment in our homegrown businesses — again, we can afford it. We can’t afford not to.

We will make organic economic growth possible by fixing our infrastructure, investing in broadband, better roads, airports and water systems that will make our rural economies sing.

And we will be good stewards of our environment. A methane mitigation rule will not only protect our health, it will deliver more money for the state and create meaningful jobs.

A dramatic increase in our clean energy production insulates us from future oil busts and makes good on our promise to leave our great outdoors greater than we found them. That means we will produce 50% of our energy from renewable sources by 2030 and set the course for 80% ten years after that.

We can achieve this, and I will not relent until it is done.

We will do things the right way again. We will staff our departments with the personnel they need – diligent professionals who will be the envy of every other state in the country. We will not fight for fighting’s sake. We will be transparent in how we do our work and we will be accountable to you.

Political victories are not worth a whole lot on their own. Progress into the better day we all envision is a collaborative, everyday effort. And it doesn’t happen without the unifying commitment of New Mexicans who truly believe this better future is not only possible but within reach, especially if we are reaching for it together.

So we’re not here to celebrate a political victory but to remind ourselves a victory is only as good as the work ethic of the victors. We’re not here as members of a winning party but as New Mexicans with our sleeves rolled up.

When I think about the New Mexicans I know, and the people we met during this campaign, the retirees, the entrepreneurs, the students, the mothers, the fathers, the dreamers, the believers and even the skeptics, I think: This is our time. It must be our time.

The opportunity we share has never been greater because our collective will has never been stronger.

I am asking you to help me build from this, right now. Help me by setting aside pessimism and holding up your best ideas about what we can become. Help me by committing to the process of doing things the right way again. Help me by aiming high, as high as you can.

It begins in your home, in your school district, in your community, whether your family has been here 12 generations or you moved here last week – we will do this together, and the result will be a national model for productive growth, smart and purposeful steps forward, a better New Mexico, a thriving New Mexico, made better because we did the work to build it side by side.

My highest aspiration is the opportunity to work as hard as I possibly can for you and with you every single day.

With unselfish discipline, with relentless focus, and with our eyes up — and with your help, with your voices, with your faith, we will rise to this occasion. We will grow stronger every day. The unlimited promise of this magnificent state is ours to achieve.

It is time for us to thrive. Viva New Mexico!

Thank you.