Although these are separate data points — deaths with underlying conditions, versus mortality rates by race and ethnicity — they are “absolutely connected,” said Emily Wildau, research and policy analyst at New Mexico Voices for Children.
“We knew over 10 years ago that we needed to change our educational investments to earlier in a child’s life if we were going to change their trajectory,” said senior research and policy analyst Jacob Vigil. “We knew we needed a lot of money to make that happen, more than likely could be raised in taxes.” If passed, the amendment would bring roughly $100 million to K-12 education and $150 million to the state’s Early Childhood Education and Care Department, which oversees services such as preschool, child care and home visiting programs in the state.
“We think this policy is really crucial right now because we know that so many of our families with kids are still struggling,” said Amber Wallin, the executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, a nonprofit group that supports the proposed tax credit.
Amber Wallin of New Mexico Voices for Children added during a press call that Hispanic New Mexican parents were more than twice as likely as white parents in the state to have lost wages since the pandemic began, and more than three times as likely to be unsure about whether or not they can make their next housing payment.
Undocumented immigrants paid almost $68 million in state and local taxes, according to a 2020 report from New Mexico Voices for Children. Still, 60,000 undocumented immigrants are often excluded from benefits provided during emergencies, including unemployment insurance and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP.
A New Mexico Voices for Children report from August says “New Mexicans who speak languages other than English, particularly immigrants and refugees, are excluded because of systemic inequities in language access. The inadequacy of our state’s multilingual interpretation and translation services causes significant hardship in many New Mexico communities because language access is critical for both good health and financial security.”
Amber Wallin, deputy director, said that Chaves County’s outcomes are often tied closely to the fortunes of the oil and gas industry. “Those are things like poverty rates, child abuse rates that are linked to that,” said Wallin. “We know when parents have steady wages and good steady income that is a good predictor of how children are doing.” She added that the pandemic had a dramatically different effect on people depending on their social circumstances.
Amber Wallin, executive director of NMVC, said New Mexico legislators should continue to enact legislation that will positively impact families and children, particularly families of color. “During this Legislative session we’re continuing to focus on public policy to provide robust safety net support, especially in direct economic assistance for families who need it the most, especially for low-income front line workers, refugee and immigrant families unable to access key forms of relief,” she said.
In this legislative session, New Mexico Voices for Children will be asking lawmakers to put families with children first in policymaking. High on the list of policies that will help ensure a just recovery and equitable opportunities for all families are enacting a state-level CTC, with families facing the biggest economic challenges seeing the biggest benefits.
“If lawmakers continue putting kids and families first, we expect to see even more improvements, Wallin said. “However, in order to ensure an equitable recovery from the pandemic and recession, these policies must consider the unique barriers faced by our children, families, and communities of color.”