"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."
During a talk Thursday night sponsored by Albuquerque-based New Mexico Voices for Children, Harris, a longtime New Mexico resident, said he wonders how far along the U.S. has come since 1968, when the group released its findings. He noted the civil, racial and political unrest in the nation this year in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed during a May 25 arrest in Minneapolis.
In 2004, Lujan Grisham became health secretary for then-Gov. Bill Richardson. James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, remembers her well. He served as secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration before becoming Richardson’s chief of staff. “She was kind of a pain, but only in the sense that she was a terrific advocate and didn’t want to let go until she knew that she absolutely had to,” Jimenez said.
“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.
“We haven’t figured out a way to establish a tax structure that allows the state and municipalities and counties to raise adequate revenue to meet the needs of their citizens,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children.
Nearly half reported that members of their families had seen reduced hours or pay cuts, with one in three parents or primary caregivers saying they were struggling to meet rent or mortgage payments. 36 percent of respondents who had lost work were not eligible for unemployment benefits.
"New Mexico has a deep history with police brutality that culminated recently in the Department of Justice requiring the City of Albuquerque to reform the police force in the state's largest city, following a report that found a majority of police-involved shootings they investigated were unconstitutional."
“The lease rates are based on current oil and gas prices, so clearly any leases sold soon will go at bargain-basement prices. As New Mexico receives a share of the lease revenue, which helps put books in our classrooms and medicines in our clinics and hospitals, we will not be getting full value for our shared state resources,” Jimenez said.
“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.