by Blake Driver, Albuquerque Business First

Terri Cole, president and CEO of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, said last week that the organization will be making public safety — particularly child well being — a higher priority in the next legislative session than ever before.

“Because really, from a competitive perspective, New Mexico cannot have a strong economic foundation unless this is a good place for kids,” she told the crowd at the 10th Annual New Mexico Tax Research Institute Legislative Outlook Conference. “And we have a lot of places in New Mexico that need to be fixed. So we’ll be working for the first time … to try to improve that environment.”

Speaking after Cole on the panel of interested stakeholders was Bill Jordan of New Mexico Voices for Children, who drew the connection between struggling businesses and families in the state.

“Families do well when we have stable, good-paying jobs,” he said. “We can’t have a successful economy if our families are failing.”

Jordan ticked off recent dismal Kids Count rankings that show New Mexico in 49th place in child well being and at a new low of first in the nation for child poverty. He said the state ranks third nationally for child hunger.

“Where is the legislative plan, or the executive plan, to address that?” Jordan asked.

He said the only plans he’s aware of involve cutting more business taxes, which would take revenue from the general fund that support programs for children, and also that business rankings don’t just take business taxes into account, but that they also factor in education, workforce, infrastructure and child poverty.
“And we’re No. 1 in child poverty, and that’s dragged down our business rankings,” he said.

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