“There's been policies over the years that unfortunately really haven't prioritized many communities and families of color in our state," Wallin said. "And Doña Ana County and Las Cruces have higher proportions of families that are families of color. We know that it's incredibly important to support our essential workers because we know that Doña Ana County has a higher proportion of essential workers as compared to the rest of the state and the rest of the nation.”
“We saw so many of the indicators of child well-being were really improving; then the pandemic hit,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, during a virtual news conference Wednesday. “Next year, we’ll see the damage the pandemic did in a statistical way. I know we see it in new reports every single day of how families are struggling.”
"...We can show our determination and resiliency through reimagining our state's policies to repair the fault lines that have widened along racial lines, by gender and by income levels since the pandemic struck," the summary said.
Jimenez said it’s also important for legislators to enact policies to get money “into the hands of families who will spend it quickly and locally. We believe that all the tax credits to business in the world will not make a difference if people do not have money to spend in those businesses,” he said.
While the extraction of oil and natural gas in New Mexico is mostly done on public lands, the state has less authority over the process than you might think. And while the industry puts a lot of money into our public schools, it could put a lot more money in if the state made the rules. Unfortunately, because much of the public land where drilling takes place here is actually federal land, we must rely on the federal government to set the rules.
“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.”