In a state with one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, it would make sense to ensure that state financial aid goes to those who need assistance but that is not the case according to a report released today by New Mexico Voices for Children. Part of the solution is for the state Legislature to immediately replenish the College Affordability Fund from the budget surplus now available.
Fact Sheet Thanks to large budget cuts over the past decade, college tuition in New Mexico has risen sharply. At the same time, the state's main source of financial aid -- the Lottery Scholarship -- has failed to keep up with rising costs and now covers less than half of average tuition costs. This fact sheet covers the top points from the companion report, Improving College Affordability. (A Working Poor Families publication)
Report States that graduate more college students and ensure that their workers have the skills needed for 21st century jobs have stronger and more competitive economies, higher wages, lower unemployment rates, and lower poverty rates. But New Mexico has not been focused on improving access to post-secondary credentials for lower-income students and older adults that would help lead to a more broadly shared prosperity. Rather, the state is ignoring long-term economic demands, choosing, instead, to continue to be a low-wage state with the highest long-term unemployment rate, have the highest poverty rate among the employed, and have the second worst student loan default rate in the nation. (A Working Poor Families report; state-level data on state-funded financial aid and some characteristics of college students)
New Mexico has some 245,000 people, or 31 percent of its workforce, earning low wages at or near a proposed minimum wage of $12 per hour. About 159,000 or nearly 20 percent of workers are paid less than $12, said Sharon Kayne, a spokeswoman at the nonprofit New Mexico Voices for Children, which issued a report in August on the minimum wage based on data from the Economic Policy Institute.
Now is the time to enact bold tax reform and improve our tax system so we can begin to generate key, sustainable resources that are not ruled by the boom-or-bust cycle of the oil and gas industries. This reform should begin by restoring fairness to the personal income tax, a stable source of revenue that is underutilized in New Mexico due to tax cuts enacted in 2003.
The impending closure of the San Juan coal-fired power plant and mine does not have to signal economic doom for the small town of Waterflow, NM, where the plant is located. The site is an excellent candidate to be redeveloped for green energy production. That’s one of the conclusions from a new report by economist Kelly O’Donnell, Ph.D.
Report The San Juan Generating Station in Waterflow, New Mexico, is slated for closure in 2022. Closure of both the mine and plant will eliminate approximately 450 jobs and result in the loss of tax revenue for San Juan County, San Juan Community College, and the local school district. This analysis shows that the complex is a good candidate for redevelopment as a solar photovoltaic plant, saving jobs and tax revenue.
Fact sheet New Mexico’s tax system is upside down—most New Mexico families pay more than twice the rate in state and local taxes than the wealthiest pay. A new state-level Child Tax Credit would help hard-working families and make our tax system more fair. (State-level data on how this tax credit would benefit families)
Fact sheet The Low Income Comprehensive Tax Rebate (LICTR) was enacted to make our tax system fairer but because it hasn’t been updated in 20 years, it no longer does the job. LICTR was last amended in 1998. Over the last two decades, the rebate has lost much of its value, because a dollar is worth much less today that it was back in 1998. Over the same time period, our tax system has only gotten more regressive – falling even harder on those with the lowest incomes.
“It’s also going to take more revenue – and it needs to be a more reliable revenue stream than oil and natural gas. If we don’t stabilize our revenue situation, we’ll just have to cut some of these initiatives when oil and gas prices go down. You can’t expect real education reform on a boom-or-bust funding cycle,” he wrote in an email to the Journal.