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.
The good news is New Mexico is starting to see improvements in a number of areas as well as “big investments in programs that matter most to kids,” such as in education, early childhood education and child care programs, said Amber Wallin, deputy director of New Mexico Voices for Children.
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.
James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, says the congressional impasse over a comprehensive immigration bill left approximately 6,000 New Mexico DACA recipients in limbo. "The main reason we have DACA is because of the failure of the Congress to be able to pass meaningful immigration reform, which is really putting families in a very challenging, very harmful position," he states.
Trump sought to end the program by questioning whether former President Barack Obama had overstepped his authority by creating the program through executive order. James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, called Trump’s efforts ironic. “The irony is that the Trump administration never misses an opportunity to claim no limits to what the president can do,” Jimenez said.