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To boost educational outcomes, New Mexico will start the new year with a free, virtual tutoring program – focused on math, language arts, and science for students from pre-K through 8th grade. The tutoring is available to all Title 1 schools, including tribally controlled ones. The governor’s office announced the company, Paper Education Inc., was chosen to offer the services following a competitive process. Co-founder and CEO Philip Cutler said the free online tutoring can be scheduled before, after or during school. “It’s either the text chat, or audio messages – and that’s available 24/7 for all students in unlimited classes,” said Cutler. “They can come for as long as they need – if they need five minutes of help, if they need five hours of help – it’s available for whatever their needs are.”
The United States Supreme Court dealt a blow this morning to efforts to handicap the Affordable Care Act subsidies provision by deciding 6-3 that federal subsidies for Americans seeking health insurance through state-based exchanges are legal. See the reactions to the ruling from New Mexico’s congressional delegation. Republican opponents of the law sued to have those subsidies, essentially providing discounts on premiums for health policies offered through health exchanges, declared improper because the language of the ACA provided for those subsidies only through state-based exchanges, they argued. The argument said the law did not allow for subsidies in states that relied on the federal exchange instead of those created by the state themselves. “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a decision for the majority.
Over the weekend, New Mexico Political Report’s senior reporter Joey Peters hit the small screen to discuss several local and regional issues. Peters appeared as a panelist on New Mexico in Focus, a local public affairs program that airs weekly on New Mexico PBS. He joined host Gene Grant, Albuquerque attorney Laura Sanchez-Rivet, Albuquerque Free Press associate editor Dennis Domrzalski and Vox Optima founder Merritt Allen to talk about several burning issues in New Mexico. The program kicked off with a discussion of the controversial Santolina planned community. The Bernalillo County Commission voted to authorize the Santolina master plan last week.
Democratic lawmakers felt the brunt of Gov. Susana Martinez’s 42 capital outlay project vetoes, with 27 of those projects sponsored solely by Democrats. But Martinez did veto some GOP projects, including three Albuquerque projects advocated by House Majority Leader Nate Gentry. A key aspect of the capital outlay appropriation process involves lawmakers recommending local projects on behalf of their constituents. Only a fraction of the projects make it into the bill, when legislators must choose how to allocate their share of the bond money. The $294 million bill included $84 million for lawmaker projects, divided equally between the House and Senate, then divided equally between the lawmakers in each body.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]TERRY BRUNNER is the USDA Rural Development State Director for New Mexico.[/box]
All of us know Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and Bill and Melinda Gates as some of history’s most famous, successful couples. But you may not know we have a very successful (maybe not yet internationally famous) couple living in our midst today in rural New Mexico—Joe and Christina Campos of Santa Rosa, NM. Joe and Christina have together devoted a substantial amount of their lives to improving their rural community and they have plenty of accomplishments to show for it. Joe served as a Guadalupe County Commissioner, a State Representative for 8 years and is serving in his fourth term as Mayor of Santa Rosa. During Joe’s time in public service the community acquired new water and sewer systems, a new correctional facility, enhancements to the Blue Hole recreation site and a downtown makeover. Christina serves as the Administrator of the Guadalupe County Hospital where, during her tenure, they built a modern hospital and public health clinic. Next door to the hospital is a brand new dental facility. Few similarly-sized communities in New Mexico are able to claim such comprehensive, state-of-the art health services. If that’s not enough already to do, Joe and Christina own a local family restaurant, “Joseph’s Bar and Grill” which has been a mainstay on old Route 66 for many years. I wasn’t surprised to find this active couple recently at a housing meeting sponsored by the City of Santa Rosa. There were about 30 people in attendance — on a weeknight. The meeting was part of a series of gatherings convened by Mayor Campos concerning the future of housing, economic development, workforce and other issues in Santa Rosa. It can be hard for rural communities to have those hard discussions about these issues but I was impressed with the respectful, productive dialogue and that participants were truly engaged in the subject matter.
Starboard Communications, which sent the messed-up May fundraising letter on behalf of the New Mexico Republican Party, also worked in the state’s U.S. Senate race last year. The South Carolina consulting firm is identified in a report filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission by the party, which notes a payment of $2,213.83 for “Mailer/May Gentry Letter.” That letter featured a forged signature of House Majority Leader Nate Gentry and misspelled Gov. Susana Martinez’s name. It identified Gentry as “Speaker of the House Majority Leader.” Starboard may be from the East Coast, but the firm isn’t new to New Mexico politics.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]REP. JASON HARPER is a Republican representing District 47 in Sandoval County. The Republican Party of New Mexico submitted this piece in response to recent stories at The New Mexico Political Report covering the legislature’s capital outlay special session.[/box]
The $264 million capital outlay bill that would have jump-started job growth, fixed roads and repaired schools died an unnecessary death at the hands of the Democratic-controlled State Senate. But to hear Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez’s slanted version of events, you’d never know that. So here is what I witnessed, first-hand. On Day One of the legislative session, Sanchez proclaimed, “Bills have always come to die in the Senate.” And sure enough, many bipartisan and commonsense bills that would have made New Mexico a better place to live, find a job and raise a family – although passed by the House of Representatives – were killed in the Senate and never made it to the governor’s desk.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]HECTOR BALDERAS is the Attorney General of the State of New Mexico.[/box]
[box type=”note” style=”rounded”]EDITOR’S NOTE: June is National Homeownership Month. This opinion piece is the second NMPR has published in June regarding National Homeownership Month. CLICK HERE to read what Terry Brunner and Tony Hernandez had to say about the work the USDA is doing to help rural homeowners.[/box]
As the first person in my family to qualify for a mortgage, I know how vital it is to get and keep a home. Buying a home is part of the American Dream and one of the best ways for families to find stability that builds communities, neighborhoods— and safety. In keeping with my commitment to protect the safety of all New Mexico families, I encourage all New Mexicans struggling with mortgage foreclosure to contact our “Keep Your Home New Mexico” program immediately. Through the program, I have dedicated the resources of my office in partnership with agencies around the state to help homeowners preserve their part of the American Dream—and the roof over their heads.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]DR. ANDRE HUFFMIRE is a family practice physician working in Albuquerque and Grants.[/box]
Imagine that you’ve scheduled an appointment with your doctor: you show up at the office, are ushered into the examining room, and wait to be seen. The door opens and, instead of your trusted family physician, in walks your state legislator. They tell you they are personally opposed to the procedure you are about to get and passed a law in the most recent legislative session banning it. Your doctor can now face a fine or lose their license if he or she provides you with the care you need. This may sound extreme, but when politicians pass laws to ban or restrict access to medical procedures like abortion, they are inserting themselves into a sacred relationship between patient and doctor and disregarding a woman’s ability to make important reproductive healthcare decisions.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]CHRIS S. SALAS is a New Mexico Catholic from Albuquerque[/box]
Catholics in New Mexico have long worked to alleviate the suffering of marginalized communities from the effects of poverty and injustice in our state and across the world. Clergy are often advocates for those most vulnerable to inequalities in a society, and people of our faith have always played an integral role in movements for racial justice, worker’s rights, immigrants’ rights and more. Though New Mexicans are facing many obstacles, our challenges are not insurmountable. With the leadership of communities of faith, we can together lift up our families. Catholics in New Mexico have worked for generations to link our faith values to our communities, so I was excited to see the recent appointment of Archbishop John C. Wester, who has a history of being a champion for poor and immigrant communities.