First, we recommend that the new governor work to make our tax system fairer and more stable. Thanks to 15 years of failed trickle-down tax cuts, New Mexico is now much too dependent on revenue from oil and natural gas extraction to fund our state services like education and public safety. But the amount of revenue we collect from oil production is based on prices that are set at the global level, so we’re stuck in a boom-or-bust cycle.
This is a perilous moment for New Mexico’s children. There’s no getting around it. Yet the future is not predetermined for kids in New Mexico. This state’s leaders can be inspired by this moment to do better by its children. They can choose to collaborate inclusively and act boldly and swiftly. That’s what it will take — both to position the state well for the 2020 census and to give children a better chance to thrive.
A minimum wage increase is long overdue – it hasn’t been raised in almost a decade. As prices increase, purchasing power erodes, and families find themselves sinking deeper into dire straits. Our $7.50 minimum wage is now worth just $6.30.
Imagine having to turn down a raise in pay because it will actually make you less financially secure. Sounds crazy, but that's what many working parents have to do--and just when they're making headway in the quest to provide their family with economic stability. It's all due to the "cliff effect" and, in New Mexico, the cliff effect for child care assistance can throw families who get even a small raise right back into poverty.
Bill Jordan spoke at the Second Annual People's Rally. His comments are posted here. "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 all want a prosperous state, but prosperity requires investments. You can’t grow a garden without good soil, sunlight, water, and some hard work. Same with a state—you can’t have prosperity without resources, infrastructure, and a skilled workforce. But instead of following an investment strategy to prosperity, New Mexico has tried to cut its way to prosperity.
When it comes to the census, it pays to be counted. The next big census is less than three years away, and a lot is at stake for New Mexico. Besides being used to determine voting districts, data from the 2020 census will translate to almost $3,000 coming into the state per person, per year for the next decade.
State government has a very important job to do. It ensures that all children receive an education that will prepare them to be productive adults. It works to keep our streets safe and our infrastructure in good repair. It must respond to public health threats and keep an eye to future needs. When state government does its job well, it enables and strengthens the state’s economic growth and helps its people thrive.
It seems that every week there is a new story in the newspaper showing the consequences of choosing tax cuts for the powerful over public investment. One of the most egregious, which has a huge impact on public safety, is the backlog of thousands of rape kits with DNA evidence that have not been processed.
Every child deserves access to the opportunities that will help them succeed. But in New Mexico--which ranks next-to-last in the nation for child well-being--too many families lack the resources we all depend upon to raise strong, healthy children. While our high rate of child poverty may seem like an insurmountable problem, it is one we can effectively address. It will take a coordinated effort and--yes--an investment of public resources, but the end result would benefit the state as a whole.