President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan infrastructure package Monday that includes funding for expanded broadband, plugging of orphaned oil and gas wells and remediating abandoned mines among other investments.. The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has been touted as the largest infrastructure investment since the New Deal. During the signing ceremony, Biden said “we’re taking a monumental step forward to building back better” and praised the bipartisan effort to get the package passed. He further described the law as a “blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America.”
“My message to the American people is this: America’s moving again and your life is going to change for the better,” he said, highlighting funding to replace lead water pipes and service lines and expanding access to affordable, high-speed internet. Biden said he will now visit areas like a structurally unsafe bridge in New Hampshire and union workers in Detroit who are building electric vehicles.
From municipal water system resiliency to energy projects, the bipartisan infrastructure package that passed the U.S. Senate on a 69-30 vote this week could help a variety of projects within the state. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives, which is reconvening on Aug. 23—about a month earlier than it had previously planned. In a statement following the passage of the bill, U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján, a New Mexico Democrat, said that it will “bring billions of dollars to New Mexico to modernize our infrastructure and create new jobs and opportunities. From repairing our roads and highways to taking aim at the digital divide, this legislation will make a difference in the lives of all New Mexicans.”
Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority
The bill also provides $5 billion in funding for water projects in the western United States and, according to a press release from U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, will fund the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority’s project to pipe water from Ute Lake near Logan to communities in the eastern part of the state as far south as Elida that currently get water from the depleting and deteriorating Ogallala aquifer.
For most of this year, the budget was the hottest topic for legislators and the governor. Both branches battled, then came to an agreement no one seems enthusiastic about. The deal suggested by Gov. Susana Martinez essentially amounted to using bonding money normally reserved for state infrastructure to balance the budget. State lawmakers request the bonding money for state infrastructure projects. Issuing bonds works like a home mortgage: the state borrows money backed by oil and gas revenue and pays it back with interest over the years. Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, said the funding method “sets a poor precedent” while Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, said he didn’t “like to do this either.”
And yet, the plan passed with a unanimous vote in the House of Representatives and just two dissenting votes in the Senate.
Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry is headed to Washington. The mayor’s office announced Wednesday that Berry, a Republican, will meet with the Donald Trump administration to discuss an infrastructure plan. The mayor’s office said that the administration “hand-picked” the attendees of the summit. Municipal elected officials and governors will reportedly meet with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, among other members of the Trump administration. NM Political Report reached out to the office of Gov. Susana Martinez to ask if she would be attending the summit.
Memorials to honor veterans, Bernalillo County public safety officers and gun violence victims.
“Shade structures” at schools and parks. Improvements for tracks, baseball fields, and basketball and tennis courts and baseball fields. This piece originally appeared at New Mexico In Depth and is reprinted with permission. Those are some of the “infrastructure” projects lawmakers funded by divvying up capital outlay money in 2016. Meanwhile, a state-owned reintegration center for troubled young people in Eagle Nest requested $673,400 last year for renovations.
Less than a week after Donald Trump won the election for president of the United States, the mayor of New Mexico’s capital city is not backing down from so-called “sanctuary” status. This comes despite threats to cut federal money to such cities made by the president-elect during the campaign. “The threat is intended to divide us against each other,” Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales wrote in a statement on Twitter Monday afternoon. “It is one of the first, but it won’t be the last we see out of this administration, which based on its own words intends to persecute and attack not only immigrants but women, Muslims, people of color, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and more.”
Though there is no formal legal definition, the politically charged term “sanctuary city” typically refers to cities that limit cooperation with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on immigration policies. Santa Fe, for example, bars the use of public resources to check for someone’s immigration status.
Gov. Susana Martinez signed a nearly $300-million capital outlay bill on Wednesday that passed during a special legislative session last week after it failed to pass during the regular session earlier this year. Martinez was in Las Cruces, the latest stop in her tour of the state to promote the three pieces of legislation that passed during the special session. Martinez is also scheduled appear in Santa Teresa today, a day after appearing in Rio Rancho to tout the capital outlay package. Martinez highlighted the passage of funding for highway projects as part of the $294 million package. “Far too many of our roads are dangerous, and they are in dire need of repair.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]JACQUE M. GARICA, MPH is a coordinator with Bernalillo County PLACE MATTERS. [/box]
Much has been made of America’s crumbling infrastructure. Rusting bridges and crumbling highways are only a part of our neglect. A much bigger part, and one that many of us don’t see is the neglect of inner-city communities, distressed schools and long forgotten playgrounds. The recent protests in Baltimore, much like Albuquerque’s protests last year, may have been triggered by unjust police violence, but are much more deeply rooted in decades of neglecting our families and communities, especially communities of color. When Governor Martinez was asked recently about the possibility of a special session to approve the financing of infrastructure projects, she said, “if it is, it’s got to benefit the private sector.” She made no mention of the needs of our families or communities, only the ‘private sector’. That was the reason that the bill didn’t pass in the first place! Lawmakers invested their capital outlay for projects like senior centers, tribal needs, and community colleges, much of what she stripped from the bill. The tax committees met nearly every day of the legislative session and every day they heard bills that would divert even more of our public tax dollars to the ‘private sector’. Nearly a dozen of those tax breaks made it into the final tax packages.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]DON SIMONSON, PhD. is an Emeritus Professor of Finance at the University of New Mexico and the Treasurer for the Board of Directors of New Mexico Voices for Children. [/box]
The notion of “paying it forward” is a popular one, and while we may not think about our income taxes as a form of paying it forward, that’s exactly what we’re doing. The public works that we all depend upon today—roads and highways, schools and parks, telecommunications and electrical grids, even courts and prisons—were made possible in part by taxes paid by past generations. And the taxes we pay today won’t just go toward keeping these systems and infrastructure in good repair, they will also be needed to plan for our future and address unexpected issues and opportunities. This kind of long-term vision is the foundation upon which the United States was built.
Our public works and infrastructure don’t just improve our quality of life, they also make our modern economy possible.