laVOZblog
April 6, 2016 - by Bill Jordan
If tuition increases were a tax hike they’d be so massive no politician would be caught so much as thinking about them, let alone supporting them. Due in large part to New Mexico’s budget cuts to higher education over the last six years, tuition and fees have increased by 46 percent at 4-year public universities and by 34 percent at 2-year colleges. Now we get the news that students at the University of New Mexico will see another increase of about $280 in their tuition and fees next year. That may not seem like a huge amount to some, but it’s enormous when you look at it this way: If the average New Mexico adult was expected to pay an extra $280 a year in gross receipts taxes, it would be equivalent to a 22 percent tax increase!…
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March 24, 2016 - by Bill Jordan
Faced with a revenue shortfall while crafting the state budget, the majority of our lawmakers chose to protect tax cuts for corporations and the rich—even though there’s absolutely no evidence that they’ve created any jobs—and voted instead to force more than $400 million in cuts to Medicaid. After years of enacting massive tax cuts, then getting hit with a rapid drop in gas and oil prices just before the 2016 legislative session, New Mexico lawmakers had to find a way to balance the state’s budget with a whole lot less money than they had anticipated. Medicaid is the state-federal program that provides health care to children, low-income adults, the elderly, and the disabled. For every state dollar we spend, we draw down three to four dollars from the federal government, so it’s a great deal for our doctors, hospitals, and residents who could otherwise not afford health care.…
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February 12, 2016 - by Veronica C. Garcia, Ed.D
New Mexico has the highest rate of child poverty, the highest unemployment, and the third highest child hunger. We simply cannot deal with the current revenue crisis by cutting programs and services for children, which would exacerbate these already critical problems. We did not take a balanced approach to revenue shortfalls during the recession, and we are still feeling the negative effects of that. We must accept the fact that our tax-cut approach to economic development has failed, bite the bullet, and raise new revenue. And we must do it in a way that protects our working families. This revenue free-fall has hardly come out of the blue. We’ve been cutting taxes for well over a decade in the hopes that somehow jobs will materialize and we’ve created so many exceptions to our gross receipts tax that it’s got more holes than Swiss cheese.…
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January 28, 2016 - by Amber Wallin
If you worked but earned less than $53,000 last year, you may qualify for a refundable tax credit called the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). It could be worth as much as $6,200. Friday, January 29, is National EITC Day, a nationwide effort to increase public awareness about the benefits of the federal EITC, which is available to low- and middle-income working families. It helps working folks meet basic needs for food and transportation and provide for their children. New Mexico’s Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) is based directly on the EITC and provides additional benefits for New Mexico’s working families and communities. It can be worth up to $620 for those who qualify for the EITC. The EITC has been making the lives of workers a little easier since 1975.…
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January 25, 2016 - by Sharon Kayne
In his January 14 column, Winthrop Quigley called Medicaid an essential part of a social safety net but took issue with the notion that the federal funding is good for the state’s economy. He claimed that Medicaid cannot help people out of poverty. I disagree on both counts. I’ve suffered from depression most of my life. Untreated, my depression impacted my decision-making process and, consequently, I could not handle the kind of stress that is inherent in most professional jobs. So, despite having earned my college degree, I was making poverty-level wages waiting tables. I was in a classic Catch-22 situation: without access to health care, I could not handle the kind of job that would provide me with health insurance.…
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December 16, 2015 - by Amber Wallin
A New Mexico senator says he’s “not a fan of tapping the permanent fund unless the state is in dire straits” in the recent story about using a tiny percentage of the state’s school permanent fund to expand early childhood care and learning programs (Santa Fe New Mexican, Dec. 2, 2015). It begs the question—exactly what would constitute “dire straits” in the senator’s opinion? New Mexico already has the highest rate of child poverty in the nation, is next-to-last in child well-being and in math and reading scores, and has the third highest rate of child hunger. We have the resources to fix this, but some legislators don’t want to let the voters decide whether this state of affairs qualifies as dire enough to make the investment.…
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November 25, 2015 - by Veronica C. Garcia, Ed.D
Much like Dan Herrera, I also made it out of poverty, but I realize that I was one of the lucky ones (Albuquerque Journal, Nov. 5, 2015). For every one that is successful there are hundreds who are not. None of us becomes successful entirely on our own. Teachers and government programs played an important role. If it wasn’t for food stamps and commodities I would’ve gone to school hungry. Government assistance after my Grandmother died ensured we could pay the rent. Encouraging and supportive teachers helped me make it through some pretty traumatic and rough times. President Johnson’s war on poverty allowed me attend college. As a first-generation high school and college graduate the UNM College Enrichment Program was key in my earning my first of three degrees.…
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November 25, 2015 - by Amber Wallin
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all of the blessings we enjoy—our families, our health, and the bounty of our good earth and beautiful state. It’s also a time that many of us think about those who are less fortunate and a time to donate to the charities that help them. But hard times know no season, and many New Mexicans experience hunger throughout the year. These people—many of them children, seniors, and hard-working parents—already live on the margins, often just one financial setback away from disaster. Unfortunately, some New Mexico lawmakers are considering a policy change that could make the lives of these vulnerable New Mexicans even tougher. They are considering taxing food. Like most states, New Mexico does not tax the food you purchase at the grocery store.…
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October 21, 2015 - by Veronica C. Garcia, Ed.D
The Gila River diversion is not only bad for the environment, it’s a terrible way to invest such a big chunk—as much as $1 billion—of taxpayer money. There are better ways to meet our state’s water needs and much more important investments to make with those public funds.
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September 24, 2015 - by Bill Jordan
Parks matter for our kids. More time spent outdoors, connecting with nature and with family, brings tremendous health benefits to children – from decreased obesity to improved distance vision. New Mexico families benefit from numerous parks around the state that boast a collection of landscapes that are as diverse as they are beautiful. Many of these parks were made possible, in full or in part, by the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). That fund is in danger, however, as it is set to expire if Congress takes no action by September 30. For 50 years, the LWCF has funded dozens of parks and outdoor recreation areas in New Mexico for our kids and families to enjoy with moneys collected from the proceeds of offshore oil drilling.…
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