"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."
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.
“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.
“Moving forward with oil and gas lease sales in the middle of this pandemic--when the oil market is crashing, and communities are focused on the health and safety of their loved ones — is misguided, dangerous, and just flat wrong,” Jimenez said.
“Big power shifts like this don’t happen very often, and when they do, they can result in significant changes in the priorities of a legislative body,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, an advocacy group for improving childhood well-being.
"It is especially important that New Mexico is relatively well-prepared to weather a recession because we will be harder hit than other states by lower oil and gas prices due to our over-reliance on that industry as a revenue source,” James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, said in a statement.
Each year in New Mexico, oil and gas companies waste hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of natural gas through venting, flaring and leaks, all of which worsens air pollution and costs the state more than $43 million in royalty and tax revenue. That is enough revenue to increase pre-K enrollment by 80% and offer more than 7,000 additional New Mexico kids access to quality early childhood education.
BLM grapples with public participation amid coronavirus pandemic, while some call for lease sales to be postponed
“While New Mexico families are focused on making sure their loved ones are safe and healthy during this fast-moving crisis, other problems are brewing at the state level that may cause pain for years to come. Plummeting oil and gas prices are draining the state budget of funds needed for public safety, health care, education, and more."
Some of the money that supports New Mexico’s education system comes from royalties and rental payments paid by the oil and natural gas industries. Because we understand how fortunate we are to have those natural resources, we tend to forget our responsibility to be the very best stewards of them that we can be.