Public lands belong to all of us, which means every New Mexican should be reaping the benefits. Yet, oil and gas companies continue to enjoy sweetheart deals for drilling on our public lands, as exemplified by this week’s lease sale. We urge Congress to take action and update the federal government’s fiscal policies for public lands drilling; our children’s futures depend upon it.
However, critics, including representatives of New Mexico Voices for Children and the National Education Association-New Mexico, a leading teachers union, said the state already offers various tax breaks for low-income residents.
“Ensuring an accurate census count is crucial for improving child well-being in our state because so much of the funding for health, education, and food security programs that New Mexico kids depend upon is determined by the census,” said Amber Wallin, deputy director of New Mexico Voices for Children.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham outlined her legislative priorities last week. Among those top concerns are creating early childhood trust funds, increasing penalties for the use of firearms in non-capital felonies and legalizing recreational marijuana.
“Kids Count is right to point out the enormous challenges facing our state’s early childhood services system,” Groginsky said. “We know that high-quality health and educational programs for children deliver an astonishing return on investment,” she added, “including significant gains in nearly every area we care about: education, health, employment, and social and emotional behavior.”
“We’re clearly not adequately providing (opportunities) for children of color, who make up the largest segment of our child population,” New Mexico Voices for Children executive director James Jimenez said. “When we’re OK with the fact that so many of our children lack the opportunities they need to be successful, we really paint a dire picture for the future.”
“We need to make these investments long term, and shouldn’t expect because there was one good budget year that all of a sudden everyone has the resources that they need. That’s clearly not the case,” he said.
“Despite knowing how important early childhood programs are for children’s healthy development and success, the LFC proposal continues to short-change the ECCE programs that give all New Mexico children the chance to reach their full potential,” Jimenez said.
In all, the tax package that was passed last year was a win for New Mexico families with children. It also protected revenue that we need for our classrooms, road repairs, and health care while still giving working families a much-needed break. There is still work to be done in 2020 to make the tax system fairer, but 2019 was a great start.
“Tax policy is an important way we express our values as a state and raise the revenue to meet our goals,” Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in the press release. “These committees will study reform measures thoroughly and help us make sure we get it right.”