“All the tax breaks in the world for business aren’t going to make a difference if people don’t have money to spend,” he says. They get more money to spend by working at better jobs. And they get better jobs through better education, and through businesses attracted to a state with better infrastructure.”
New Mexico’s overall food insecurity rate increased from 15 percent in 2018 to an estimated 21 percent in 2020, NMVC said, based on the national nonprofit Feeding America’s “Impact of the Coronavirus on Local Food Insecurity” report.
Their top recommendation was to restore income tax rates to the level they were before the cuts of 2003. Those cuts have cost the state $500 million a year, and have gone disproportionately to those with the highest incomes, Wallin said. A family earning $25,000 a year now pays the same rate as one earning $250,000, she said.
James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, an Albuquerque-based nonprofit that works with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said the New Mexico Legislature’s recent approval of relief measures for small businesses and residents will help mitigate those issues. However, he said, Congress also needs to enact legislation providing more help to families.
“You can’t govern with that kind of instability,” said James Jimenez, executive director of the advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children. The economic whipsawing does major harm to education, he said. “When oil prices crash — and this won’t be the last time they do — it means our universities have to charge higher tuition and our K-12 finances suffer.”
Pre-pandemic New Mexico saw a boom in oil and gas extraction, which was mirrored by an increase in state revenue. And while many state leaders opined that this boom was going to last indefinitely, the reality for the industry was far more grim. “In short,” the report states, “while New Mexico posted record oil and gas revenues, the oil and gas industry itself was reporting steep losses.”
“Moving forward, we think New Mexico needs to continue investing in the programs that create opportunities for our families,” she said, adding that meeting basic needs such as food assistance, health care, child care and housing will be crucial.
Economic analysts warned that New Mexico could be unable to rely on its oil and gas industry as the market continues to struggle amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Lease fees, royalty payment and taxes from oil and gas operations accounted for about 30 percent of the state’s budget in recent years, per a recent study from the Institute for Energy Economics (IEEFA) and Financial Analysis.
The oil and gas industry is in decline – and has been for at least a decade – according to a new economic report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). This isn't the fault of the coronavirus, but the pandemic has helped underscore some of the industry's problems.
“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."