“Virtually all of incarcerated youth in New Mexico – 99% – have experienced some form of trauma that influenced their decision making,” said Javier Rojo, Research and Policy Analyst with New Mexico Voices for Children. “Tacking court-ordered costs onto an already traumatic experience only adds stress to their lives. The elimination of fines and fees is a big step forward in creating a more just system that focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment.”
All of the speakers touched on the enormous reach of the ARPA and expressed the hope that the Child Tax Credit portion is made permanent. “This is such a far-reaching investment in our children,” said Jimenez. “Advocates like to say that a budget is a moral document. This is a moral statement about the importance of investing in our children.”
“We applaud the passage of the American Rescue Plan. This legislation is the kind of action we need now, when unemployed workers are still struggling to pay their bills, millions of families are falling further behind on rent and at risk of facing homelessness, and parents are worrying about how they will feed their children."
Aside from paying taxes, immigrants in New Mexico have $3.2 billion in purchasing power and immigrant-owned businesses have annual sales of $4.4 billion. Those are among the economic contributions immigrant residents make that support other local businesses and jobs. “Immigrants are actually twice as likely to start a company as are folks who were born here,” said James Jimenez, executive director of NM Voices. “These companies create jobs and economic activity that we would otherwise not have.”
Gov. Lujan Grisham spoke at the press conference about some of her priorities for the current session. “We have a real opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our children this year,” she said. “Among them – we’re on track to greatly expand education and care programs for our youngest children through the Land Grant Permanent Fund and we’re enacting an equity-first budget for public education that will ensure resources are going where they’re most needed.”
“We are very excited to be welcoming NMEPHN into the NM Voices family,” said James Jimenez, executive director of the child advocacy agency. “Our portfolio of environmental work has increased tremendously over the past several years, so this new partnership makes perfect sense.”
Many of our state and nation’s systemic racial inequities are the result of public policies that benefit some groups while disadvantaging others. Such policy is even found in our tax codes, but by changing them, New Mexico can begin to build a more equitable future.
New Mexico performs well on access to health care but is falling short on food security and mental wellness, according to the recent household data in Kids, Families and COVID-19: Pandemic Pain Points and a Roadmap for Recovery, a 50-state report developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation analyzing how families are faring during the COVID-19 crisis.
New Mexico Voices for Children is cautiously optimistic about the revenue estimates released today. Given that 70% of the estimated decline in revenue for the current fiscal year can be attributed to the drop in oil and gas prices, it is clear that New Mexico needs to stabilize its revenue streams.
“Once again low oil and gas prices are causing shortfalls in dollars needed in the state budget for our schools, public safety, health care, and more. The IEEFA report released today makes it clear that we cannot simply blame COVID-19 for our revenue shortfall and expect New Mexico to recover when the pandemic subsides."