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.

  • Working in coalition, we helped get Permanent Funds for Early Childhood legislation passed (2021) – after more than a decade. This joint resolution means the issue can now go to the voters who will decide whether to invest a tiny portion of the Land Grant Permanent Fund in early childhood care and education to help the more than 116,000 New Mexico kids under the age of 5 succeed and thrive.
  • 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 to working families and seniors earning low incomes every year.
  • We helped push through more pandemic relief for essential workers and families who were left out of the federal relief (2021). This will deliver $114 million to New Mexicans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and recession.
  • 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 (2021), meaning the more than 50% of New Mexico workers who lacked this basic benefit will no longer have to decide between their pay check and their heath when they or their family members are sick.
  • We helped in the establishment of a new Health Care Affordability Fund (2021), which will reduce premiums for the tens of thousands of New Mexicans who purchase their health insurance on the state exchange.
  • 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.
  • Working in coalition, we helped secure $7 million in COVID-19 relief funds (2020) to help some of the more than 15,000 New Mexicans who did not receive federal assistance.
  • By providing data at the legislative district level, we helped convince the Legislature to appropriate $11.5 million (2019, 2020) to help ensure an accurate Census 2020 count. 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 (2020) to pay for some of the services that help the 116,978 New Mexico children under the age of 5 to succeed and thrive.
  • 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 be able to 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.
  • Our data and expertise on K-12 public school funding was used by a partner organization as part of the successful Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit to increase public school funding (2014-2017). The lawsuit led to a funding increase of about $450 million, much of which went to raising teacher salaries (2019).
  • 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. These changes will also bring in millions of dollars in revenue to pay for the infrastructure all businesses need in order to operate (2013, 2019).
  • We provided economic impact data about the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (2011-2013) to the coalition working to inform the public dialog. 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 (2006-2007). The Working Families Tax Credit was enacted in 2007 and expanded in 2009, 2019, and 2021. It 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 (2010-2018) helping protect the more than 300,000 New Mexicans who already don’t have enough to eat.
  • We launched the Invest in Kids NOW! coalition (2011) and proposed the idea for increasing funding for early care and education (ECE) programs by tapping the multi-billion-dollar Land Grant Permanent Fund. 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 (2005), which leveraged $183 million in the first 3 years.
  • Working in coalition, we convinced UNM Hospital to improve interpretation and translation services and remove financial barriers for uninsured and under-insured patients (2005-2007), benefiting 105,200 individuals.
  • 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 (2003), including additional benefits for workers with dependent children. 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 (2003-2007) by $800 million, benefiting 25,000 children and adults over 5 years.
  • 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 (2001), which was backed by our research and data. 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
  • Some regulation of payday lending
  • 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 limits) 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.