“We know that going into the pandemic, low-income children in our state and the children of color in our state were facing bigger challenges than many of their peers,” Wallin said. “What we see is that those challenges have been exacerbated, that COVID has really increased racial and ethnic disparities and disparities along income lines."
Instead, we should repeal the failed trickle-down tax breaks that were handed to the well-connected and big out-of-state corporations over the past two decades. Not only would this make us far less dependent on revenue from oil and gas, it would make our tax system more equitable for everyday working New Mexicans and more stable.
Nevertheless, New Mexico continues to improve in many of the indictors that measure child well-being, and Wallin credits the commitment of policy makers and “investments in programs to benefit kids and families.”
“The skeptics and the challengers are loud. But we have the facts and the families on our side,” Lujan Grisham said, calling for a renewed commitment to investing in “a system that continues its focus on children and families” during the 2021 legislative session.
"Being currently the lowest response state and a state with large numbers of undercounted population - including children, children of color, tribal communities - it's really imperative that we get that accurate count," he said. "We have enough time to do that."
“What is the kind of state that we want to create for our children now and our grandchildren and great grandchildren?” he said. “What are the ways we need to invest in New Mexico’s people in order to make that desired future happen?”
The COVID-19 pandemic is squeezing New Mexico’s already tight state budget, as vital tax revenue drops during the recession. At the same time, oil and gas companies in New Mexico and across the West are filing for bankruptcy, leaving behind orphaned wells and leaving New Mexicans with the unpaid bill for cleaning them up.
“It’s a reflection of the fact that despite what people say, that kids are our most precious asset, it’s not true in the way we invest our money in state and local government,” Jimenez said.
James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, said the last-place ranking is disappointing, but the overall improvement in 10 of the 16 indicators is encouraging. "So that's a positive thing - not as much as we'd like, and maybe some other states are improving more than we are, but at the same time, at least 10 of those indicators moved in the right direction," Jimenez said.
Fear of COVID-19 has prompted parents to cancel well-child visits nationwide, putting millions of children at risk for whooping cough, measles and other life-threatening illnesses. But non-COVID-19 medical needs haven’t gone away, and it is just as essential to prevent other vaccine-preventable diseases like polio and meningitis as it is to develop a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine.