Our 2020 Legislative Priorities
New Mexico families saw some significant wins during the 2019 legislative session (you can find more information on that at the bottom of this page), but there is still much work to be done to make New Mexico a great place to be a child. Because the 2020 session is a short one (30 days), only budgetary matters, plus whatever issues the governor puts on the agenda (known as “the call”), may be considered.
Our priorities for the 2020 legislative session include:
Tax Fairness and Budget Adequacy
Extending the Working Families Tax Credit: The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) is a state-level income tax credit available to low- and lower-middle-income working adults that is linked to the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). In 2019, New Mexico raised the value of our WFTC from 10% of the federal EITC to 17% of the EITC. Because the EITC and New Mexico’s WFTC have positive impacts on child and family outcomes, we are again urging lawmakers to increase the value of the WFTC (to 20%) and to extend the credit to people who are currently excluded from receiving it. This includes workers who file their tax forms with an ITIN and younger workers (18- to 24-year olds) without children. We are also recommending an increase in the amount (to 30%) for families with young children. Link to our policy brief and fact sheets here.
Increasing the Low-Income Comprehensive Tax Rebate: In New Mexico, those with the lowest incomes pay the largest share of their income in state and local taxes while those with the highest incomes pay the smallest share. This tax rebate (referred to as LICTR) for the poorest New Mexicans helps make our tax system fairer. But because this rebate hasn’t been increased in decades, it doesn’t work as well as it is supposed to. Increasing LICTR is also a much better way to help low-income seniors than the proposals to exempt social security from income taxes. Link to our 2019 fact sheet here.
Repealing the capital gains deduction: This tax deduction almost exclusively benefits those with the highest incomes and it results in work from wages being more highly taxed than profits from the sales of stock, bonds, and real estate, etc. It’s one more way in which our tax system is unfair. While the deduction was lowered in 2019 from 50% of all capital gains income to 40%, it still represents a huge giveaway that goes almost exclusively to those who least need it. Link to our fact sheet here. Link to our 2019 gif-splainer blog here.
Ensuring a more complete Census 2020 count: The decennial census is used to draw congressional and legislative districts and to allocate more than $6 billion in federal funding every year through programs like Medicaid and SNAP that support children’s health and well-being. But because New Mexico has one of the highest rates of hard-to-count communities in the country, the state has some big hurdles to clear to ensure that every New Mexican is counted in Census 2020. In 2019, the Legislature established the State of New Mexico Complete Count Committee and appropriated $3.5 million for census outreach and education and to help support local complete count committees around the state. This was a good initial investment, but more money will need to be appropriated this year to ensure a fair and accurate count of all New Mexico residents. Link to our policy brief here.
Education and Early Learning/Care
Fixing the child care cliff effect: When working parents begin to climb the income ladder, they can lose the child care assistance that allows them to work – even though the assistance is worth far more than the raise in pay they have received. Because this makes them worse off financially, many parents have no choice but to decline raises or move their children to low-quality child care to reduce costs. Link to our 2019 fact sheet here.
Improving college affordability in New Mexico: Even though New Mexico has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, we target very little of our state financial aid to those who could not afford to attend college without financial assistance. This is no way to educate our future workforce, attract good jobs, and solve poverty. Link to our 2019 fact sheet here.
Expanding early childhood care and education services, fully funding the ECECD: While the state has made great strides in expanding access to programs that are proven to improve child outcomes – such as home visiting, high-quality child care, and pre-kindergarten – we are still nowhere near having universal access to these programs. The state made a good start by creating the Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) last year, but it needs a substantial investment in funds from all sources including the Land Grant Permanent Fund, a new Early Childhood Stabilization Fund, and the General Fund in order to offer world-class services. Link to our fact sheet on ECCE here. Link to our policy brief on the ECECD here.
Fully funding Medicaid: As the single largest health insurance provider for children in New Mexico, Medicaid is an invaluable part of our health care landscape. It also helps keep a huge share of our child population healthy, which helps them grow and learn. And, because it brings hundreds of millions of federal dollars into the state, it’s an invaluable part of our state’s economy. The federal government gives New Mexico $4 for every $1 we put into Medicaid, we would be foolish not to fully fund the program.
Expanding programs that address food insecurity among children, youth, and families: New Mexico children face major challenges when it comes to having enough food to eat, but there are common-sense policy solutions that we can take to end food insecurity and improve children’s health, well-being, and opportunities to reach their full potential. Link to our 2020 food insecurity fact sheet here.
Fighting hunger by NOT taxing food: Despite the high rate of opposition to reinstating the food tax, some lawmakers continue to pursue this bad policy. If the Legislature could find the money to pay for tax cuts for corporations and the well-connected, it can find money to pay for vital services like education, health care, and public safety without making it more expensive for our families to feed their kids. Link to our fact sheet on food insecurity here.
Professional Licensure: Like most states, New Mexico has a shortage of professionals whose occupations require licensure – most notably, doctors, dentist, and teachers. Although it is a federal law that requires immigrants to have documentation in order to become licensed, the federal government allows states to enact policies that provide a pathway for qualified immigrants to access professional licensing. New Mexico can utilize its legal right to remove obstacles for qualified immigrants and join the many other states that have already done so, thereby strengthening our workforce and economy. Link to our fact sheet here.
Extending the Working Families Tax Credit: The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) is a state-level income tax credit available to low- and lower-middle-income working adults that is linked to the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Because the EITC and New Mexico’s WFTC have positive impacts on child and family outcomes, we are urging lawmakers to extend the credit to people who are currently excluded from receiving it. This includes immigrant workers who file their tax forms with an ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number) and DACA recipients (known as “Dreamers”). Link to our fact sheet on ending exclusions to the WFTC here.
For more information on the 2019 legislative session:
These fact sheets are part of our Roadmap to a Stronger New Mexico initiative. Find out more and sign up for email alerts here.