Our Impact

While changes in public policies might not be on the radar of the average New Mexican, they can have an enormous impact – both beneficial and detrimental – on families and children. We both advocate for beneficial policies and fight against detrimental policies. Passing beneficial policies can take several years. Defeating detrimental policies, which are often brought forth year after year, also takes determination. Success one year does not mean there is no more work to be done on that issue.

Below is a list of some of our victories that have had the most beneficial impact on New Mexico’s low-income children and families, along with some of the detrimental bills we’ve helped defeat. (For a more comprehensive list of our policy priorities and wins from recent years, see our Legislative Policy Priorities page here.)

Recent Policy Victories

  • After advocating for years to close a tax deduction for capital gains income, which had resulted in income from Wall Street profits being taxed at a much lower rate than income from wages, we helped minimize that deduction, as well as close a corporate tax loophole, both of which helped pay for an income tax cut for New Mexicans (2024).
  • Working in coalition, we successfully argued for a pilot career and wage ladder for early childhood care and education professionals (2024), who earn some of the lowest wages, despite the incredible value their work has for working families and the state’s economy.
  • We discovered and recommended a needed amendment to the legislation to fund the Opportunity Scholarship that, when made, ensured that the scholarship would continue to assist the breadth of students it had been intended to serve (2024).
  • Working closely with the bill sponsor, we helped win an increase in the state Child Tax Credit (2023). The credit will be worth as much as $600 per child for families earning low incomes, sending another $105 million to families ($12 million of which will go to Native American families) and benefiting 350,000 children, including those who are being raised by as many as 27,000 grandparents who are financially responsible for their grandchildren.
  • We worked in coalition on two practices that entrenched people within the criminal justice system, winning an end to court fees and debt-based driver’s licenses suspensions (2023). When people lose their driver’s licenses due to the inability to pay court debt, 30% end up losing their jobs as well, so this practice made it even more difficult for people to pay their fines and fees.
  • Working in coalition to improve the state’s K-12 education for students identified in the Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit, we helped win an increase in the “at-risk” index in the state’s funding formula (2023), sending an additional $32 million to districts to help them support those students identified as having higher needs.
  • We successfully advocated for the passage of legislation to require safe firearms storage to help keep children from unauthorized access to guns (2023). As guns are now the leading cause of death for children and are used in one-third of youth suicides, this should help prevent such tragedies.
  • Working in coalition, we educated New Mexico voters about constitutional amendment 1 on the general election ballot to expand early childhood care and education services using a tiny share of the state’s Permanent School Fund (2022). The voters overwhelming approved the measure – 70% to 30% – mandating the expansion of programs to help more than 116,000 New Mexico kids younger than 5 to succeed and thrive. The amendment was on the ballot due to the Legislature’s passage of the Permanent Funds for Early Childhood joint resolution (2021) – an issue we and many of our partners worked on for more than a decade. 
  • Working closely with one of the bill sponsors, we helped win a new state-level Child Tax Credit (2022). It will return $74 million to families and benefit every child in the state.
  • Working in coalition, we secured a rate cap of 36% on all lending products (2022). This will protect families from predatory lenders who skim hundreds of millions from our lowest-income communities and people of color.
  • Working in coalition, we successfully pushed to have postpartum Medicaid coverage extended from 2 months to 12 months to help mothers and their babies thrive, as well as funding to end the Medicaid Waivers waiting list for those with disabilities (2022).
  • Working closely with the bill sponsor, we helped win an increase in and expansion of the Working Families Tax Credit and the Low-Income Comprehensive Tax Rebate (2021). The combined changes will return more than $100 million in additional relief every year to more than 500,000 tax filers, most of them working families and seniors earning low incomes.
  • We and our allies helped push through $21 million in COVID-19 relief funds to help some of the more than 15,000 New Mexicans who were left out of the federal relief (2020, 2021).
  • We were active members of the coalition that successfully advocated for a state-level requirement that all private-sector employers allow their workers to earn paid sick leave, meaning the more than 50% of New Mexico workers who lacked this basic benefit will no longer have to decide between their paycheck and their heath when they or their family members are sick (2021).
  • We helped in the establishment of a new Health Care Affordability Fund, which will reduce premiums for the tens of thousands of New Mexicans who purchase their health insurance on the state exchange (2021).
  • We helped make the case to drop most fines and fees from the juvenile justice system (2021). Having to pay fines and fees increases the likelihood that youth will face extended or repeated involvement in the system. By helping prevent that, this bill will give a second chance to the nearly 8,000 youth who receive delinquency referrals (meaning they have to go to court) each year.
  • By providing data at the legislative district level, we helped convince the Legislature to appropriate $11.5 million to help ensure an accurate Census 2020 count (2019, 2020). The decennial Census is used to determine how much federal funding the states get for education and other services – for New Mexico, that’s $6.2 billion a year. Just a 1% undercount would cost the state $600 million over the next decade.
  • We worked to get the $320 million Early Childhood Trust Fund enacted to pay for some of the services that help the 116,978 New Mexico children younger than 5 to succeed and thrive (2020).
  • Working with our immigrant-rights partners, we helped pass legislation that allows anyone who has the required education and training to apply for professional licensure (2020; expanded in 2021). This will allow the estimated 6,000 ‘DREAMERs’ who call New Mexico home to pursue careers in medicine, dentistry, social work, and more, helping the state to fill jobs in professions where we have worker shortages.
  • We successfully advocated for a deposit of $25 million in the College Affordability Fund, which helps low-income students pay for college (2019). The fund had been completely drained in recent years to pay for other priorities. The state also increased the amount of money each student can receive each year as well as the total amount the state can give out.
  • Working in coalition, we helped negotiate legislation to establish and license dental therapists (2019). These mid-level providers – working under the supervision of a dentist – will expand services to the nearly 900,000 New Mexicans who have little access to basic dental care.
  • Our advocacy for a refundable state Child Tax Credit, to address the harm done to large families by the 2018 federal tax cuts, led to the adoption of a dependent tax credit, worth $4,000 for each dependent beyond the first (2019). This will save New Mexico families an estimated $36 million a year.
  • We testified on behalf of the plaintiff and our data and expertise on K-12 public school funding was used in the successful Yazzie and Martinez v. State of New Mexico lawsuit to increase public school funding (2014-2017). The landmark lawsuit led to a funding increase of about $450 million, much of which went to raising teacher salaries (2019), among other changes.
  • We provided the data for and helped push through minimum wage increases at city, county, and state levels (2006-2014, 2019). The 2009 statewide increase alone allowed 161,000 low-wage workers to earn an additional $250 million in the first 2 years.
  • Our work helped level the playing field for small local businesses by closing a tax loophole used by many out-of-state corporations to avoid paying the taxes they owe in New Mexico, as well as by changing the tax code to help local businesses compete with internet sales (2013, 2019). These changes will also bring in millions of dollars in revenue to pay for the infrastructure all businesses need in order to operate.
  • We provided economic impact data about the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to the coalition working to inform the public dialog (2011-2013). This led to the acceptance of the Medicaid expansion by then-Governor Susana Martinez, which led to the enrollment of more than 40,000 children in this health insurance program (2014).
  • We brought the idea of a state-level Earned Income Tax Credit to then-Governor Bill Richardson, who championed the issue. The Working Families Tax Credit (enacted in 2007; increased and expanded in 2009, 2019, and 2021) returns more than $58 million to low-income working families and benefits some 225,000 children every year.
  • Working in coalition, we successfully defeated several attempts to re-impose the gross receipts tax on food helping protect the more than 300,000 New Mexicans who already don’t have enough to eat (2010-2018).
  • We launched the Invest in Kids NOW! coalition and proposed the idea for increasing funding for early care and education (ECE) programs by tapping the multi-billion-dollar Permanent School Fund (2011). The work led to increases of more than 240% in ECE funding over the next 7 years.
  • Our analysis of a tax bill uncovered a major error in the legislation’s estimated fiscal impact (2016). The state had estimated that this bill would cost $7 million a year in lost revenue. Our analysis (which the state adopted) showed that it would cost $70 million. That killed the bill, saving the state $70 million a year.
  • Our analysis of the state budget uncovered $20 million in federal funds that the state was neglecting to spend on child care assistance, despite maintaining a wait-list. This led to eligibility for child care expanded to 1,000 families (2015).
  • Through our Covering Kids program (1999-2005), we convinced the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE) to clarify the definition of “public charge” to encourage immigrant parents to enroll their eligible U.S.-citizen children in Medicaid. As a result, more than 50,000 eligible children were enrolled in this health insurance program.
  • We helped secure passage of the State Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which leveraged $183 million in the first 3 years (2005).
  • Working in coalition, we convinced UNM Hospital to improve interpretation and translation services and remove financial barriers for uninsured and under-insured patients, benefiting 105,200 individuals (2005-2007).
  • Our Youth Link program (1999-2010), which was instrumental in passing the Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act (2007), involved thousands of youth statewide in tobacco-use-prevention work.
  • Working in coalition, we advocated for successful passage of changes to unemployment insurance, including additional benefits for workers with dependent children (2003). It’s estimated that 44,000 displaced workers received an additional $15 million in the first 4 years.
  • We helped secure funding to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), expand eligibility for prenatal care, and increase provider rates under Medicaid by $800 million, benefiting 25,000 children and adults over 5 years (2003-2007).
  • We worked to increase funding for child care assistance and to fund a pilot home visiting program for first-time parents (2003-2008). An estimated 22,000 children benefited from the additional appropriation of $14.5 million over 5 years.
  • The New Mexico Pediatric Society released their Agenda for New Mexico’s Children, which was backed by our research and data (2001). It led to the development of the Children’s Cabinet.
  • We took the Wise Men & Wise Women Mentorship Program statewide (1996), eventually pairing more than 1,000 children with mentors in eight cities.

Other victories for New Mexico’s children and families include:

  • Increased funding for adult basic education programs
  • Closure of a personal income tax loophole that primarily benefited high-income filers
  • Limits on campaign contributions from a single source
  • Passage of the Child Helmet Safety Act
  • Passage of the Special Needs Adopted Child Tax Credit
  • Changes to the Children’s Code
  • Repeal of the death penalty
  • A statewide ban on cockfighting
  • Defeats of several Definition of Marriage Acts (DOMAs)
  • Defeats of TABOR (spending limit) bills

How Advocacy Impacts Kids and Families

Much of our success over the years has been due to our membership in the State Priorities Partnership, which is a program of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In 2019 they put together a 5-page case study on the network, highlighting our recent policy victories, which you can download here. For their 25th anniversary in 2018, the CBPP put together a short, informative video about the SPP, which you can watch here.

In 2010, one of our major funders, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, created videos about some of their grantees as part of their annual report. The video about us explains what we do and how it impacts real children and families. Watch the short, informative video here.

In 2008, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) released a report in that takes an in-depth look at the impact of the work of 14 New Mexico nonprofits, including NM Voices. The report concludes that every dollar invested in advocacy work like ours reaps more than $157 in benefits to the state’s most vulnerable children and families. Among those benefits cited are the reforms to unemployment insurance, the raise in the minimum wage, and the creation of the Working Families Tax Credit. Download the report Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities (58 pages; pdf) here.