It’s time for us to invest in what works

Bill Jordan speaking on End Hunger Day, 2-6-18Bill Jordan speaks to the crowd in the Capitol rotunda on End Hunger in New Mexico Day, the day after the Second Annual People’s Rally.

Remarks for the Second Annual People’s Rally given by Bill Jordan
Feb. 5, 2018

Good afternoon New Mexico!

I want to wrap up this afternoon’s rally by looking back at where we’ve been, how we got here, and most importantly … where we’re going.

You’ve just heard that our lawmakers this year are finally able to put back a little bit of the funding that has been cut these last few years, and that’s wonderful. We’re all very grateful.

But there’s a reason that we’ve had to cut education, health care, and public safety. There’s a reason we dropped to the bottom of all the good lists and the top of all the bad lists.

Fifteen years ago, the well-connected special interests came in here and told us we needed to cut personal income taxes to create jobs. So we gave away half-a-billion dollars in tax cuts to those already well off. But we didn’t get the jobs that were promised.

So then those well-connected lobbyists came back and told us it was really a cut in corporate income taxes that would bring jobs. So five years ago we gave away another quarter-of-a-billion dollars in corporate tax cuts and dozens of other big tax cuts, mostly to out-of-state corporations. And guess what? We didn’t get the jobs that were promised.

New Mexico is near last in the nation in job growth and all we succeeded in doing was draining our budget by taking more than a billion dollars out of education, health care, and public safety.

So now those corporate interests are telling us that it wasn’t the personal income tax or the corporate income tax ― it’s really the gross receipts tax that is too high and now they want to cut the gross receipts tax! But this time, with education funding already gutted and health care on life support, they finally realize the state can’t afford another big tax cut. So this time they’re calling it “tax reform” and telling lawmakers that since business needs a cut in their gross receipts tax, lawmakers should just raise taxes of the rest of us by taxing food and taxing charities. They want to tax the only things that aren’t profitable corporations ― our families’ kitchen table and not-for-profit charities!

Seriously people, you can’t make this up!

But you know what? We’re not going to let them. Beginning now, this is a new day in New Mexico. We are no longer going to let them take the money from our schools, cut our health care or tax our food.

Beginning today, we are no longer going to let them pollute our air, take our land, build a wall, or sell our water for profit. Beginning today, we are going to invest in New Mexico!

Invest in our kids and families, our students and our teachers, our early learning centers and our universities. We’re going to rebuild our schools and colleges, value our teachers, and make sure that all our families get access to high-quality early care and education so that ALL our children have the opportunity to succeed.

Our years of austerity just so that the rich and well-connected can get tax cuts ― those days are over!  It’s time for us to invest in what works. It’s time to invest in New Mexico.

We’re going to invest in affordable housing and we’re going to protect the assets of our families by ending the predatory practices of payday lenders, car title lenders, and tax refund lenders.

We’re going to raise the minimum wage, provide for family and medical leave, and protect the rights of everyday New Mexicans.

We’re going to make sure that everyone has access to affordable health care and we are going to restore and rebuild our behavioral health system that was ripped from communities all across the state.

We’re going to decriminalize addiction, and instead of incarceration, we’re going to provide compassionate care and treatment for those suffering from addiction. We’re going to ban solitary confinement for children and those with mental illness.

We are going to protect voting rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and the rights of immigrants and dreamers.

And we will not let them divide us ― by race, by religion, by our country of origin, or by who we love.

We will stand together.

New Mexico has a rich tradition of celebrating our diversity and we will resist their divisive words. We will hold up our diversity, our culture, and our respect for one another for the rest of the nation to see.

Perhaps because things haven’t been going so well for us these last few years, perhaps because we are hungry for change, or maybe it’s just our strength and courage nudging us onward. Whatever it is, I have never felt so encouraged that change is coming.

But it will only come if we make it happen. We can’t just resist. We can’t just criticize. We have to unite, and dream and believe. And we have to work. We have to commit to that better day that we know is right around the corner.

So let’s do this! Let’s finish the important work of this legislative session and then go out and make certain that the next one is built on a progressive agenda that invests in our kids, our families and our communities.

Thank you!

Bill Jordan, MA, is Senior Policy Advisor and Government Relations Officer for NM Voices for Children.