by Bill Jordan
June 14, 2013

Like most, my dad was not the perfect father. He had his shortcomings and he always struggled to make ends meet for our family of five kids. As a mailman, he didn’t make a lot of money and we had more than our share of tough financial times. He and my mom never wavered in their love and care for us kids. We were always their number one priority.

When times got tough, my parents never told us we had to do without eyeglasses, visits to the dentist, or enough food. Our health and education were a priority for my parents. So when they couldn’t make ends meet, dad went out and got a second job. When we all got a little older and were in high school and college, mom went back to work. Instead of making us do without, they went out and raised more money to make sure we were healthy and well educated.

Not so with New Mexico’s lawmakers. We’re in tough financial times and our kids are not doing well. But instead of raising more revenue for the “family” (as my dad did), they just gave away most of the new revenue we had in tax cuts to corporations whose profits have never been higher. Then they told the cities and counties they could raise taxes on all of us in order to pay for it.

When policy makers put corporations before kids in the “family” budget, here’s what happens:

  • The state is in trouble with the federal government for underfunding education for children with special needs.
  • The state may soon be sued for underfunding our public schools.
  • UNM and other colleges are raising tuition as much as 14% because New Mexico lawmakers have cut per-student funding deeper than any other state in the nation.
  • A new report released this week shows that New Mexico now ranks highest in child hunger.
  • The state is not spending a penny for outreach and enrollment of the tens of thousands of children who are eligible for health care coverage under New MexiKids.
  • There are fewer children with New MexiKids health care coverage today than when the Governor took office over two years ago.
  • Thousands of children have been on a waiting list for child care assistance for years, and most of them will age-out of child care and go to school before they ever get off the waiting list.

On this Father’s Day, I’m especially grateful for all that my father did for me. I also know that not every New Mexico father has the same opportunities my father had—especially during the recent recession. If the state doesn’t lend a hand and kids suffer, we all suffer. At New Mexico Voices for Children, we believe we’re in this together… that each individual’s well-being is tied to the well-being of the whole “family” that is New Mexico.

And so we’re asking our lawmakers to take a good hard look at the state’s priorities. Our kids, their kids, aren’t doing so well, and it’s time to stop giving away our limited resources and invest more in our kids. Now!

Bill Jordan is one of five children of Thomas and Mary Catherine Jordan, proud father of two amazing kids, and grandfather of two adorable grandchildren. He is Senior Policy Advisor/Governmental Relations for NM Voices for Children.