Opinion: How to solve the NM budget crisis

Our partner New Mexico in Depth published four commentaries surrounding the budget crisis and competing priorities for state legislators. Check out their pieces below. The columns originally appeared in NMiD’s 2017 Legislative Special Edition. The views in these columns are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the views or opinions of New Mexico In Depth.

Legislature must do more for working families

Andrea Serrano is the Deputy Director of OLÉ, a nonprofit committed to grassroots organizing with working families in New Mexico. The views in this column are the author’s alone and do not reflect the views or opinions of New Mexico In Depth.

New Mexico is at a crossroads: with a multi-year budget crisis and some of the low rankings in child well-being (coupled with high levels of unemployment and poverty), we can stay the course of giving tax breaks to big, out-of-state corporations and fix the budget crisis by cutting services for New Mexicans, or we can take bold steps toward creating a brighter future for New Mexico... Read more here.

Early education and childcare critical to improving child wellbeing

Meriah E. Heredia-Griego, PhD

Meriah E. Heredia-Griego, PhD, Director & Research Assistant Professor, and Hailey Heinz, Research Scientist 3, conduct education policy research at the University of New Mexico’s Center for Education Policy Research.

Early childhood care and education is central to any discussion about improving child wellbeing in New Mexico. Decades of research have shown that the early years of a child’s life are a special time when the brain is developing rapidly, and that providing enriching, stable environments for young children is one of the best investments a society can make. Supporting parents to help them be their children’s first teachers, ensuring all families have access to high-quality child care and pre-kindergarten experiences, and investing in strategies to improve the early school years are all ways New Mexico can support the wellbeing of its youngest children.

Though investing in early childhood is sound policy, accountability for early childhood investments is critical in this time of declining state resources and competing needs. Without solid data and accountability systems, it is challenging to know the reach and impact of state investments. The same research that has shown the value of early care and education has also often shown that program quality is essential, and that not every program aimed at young children is a success... Read the remainder of the piece here.

Reform Tax Code, Budget to Grow Economy

Paul Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation.

Elections have consequences. And, while Republicans strengthened their standing nationwide, here in New Mexico, Democrats are ascendant with working majorities in both houses of the Legislature.

Democrats are undoubtedly chomping at the bit to push through a whole range of policy initiatives, possibly via constitutional amendments which will circumvent Gov. Susana Martinez. But the most pressing issue is the budget situation and the economy as a whole and something needs to be done about it right away. While acknowledging the role of declining oil and gas prices, corporate tax cuts enacted in 2013 (and supported by vast majorities of Democrats) will be targeted. Some on the far-left would even like to chip away at the Richardson-era tax cuts that took New Mexico’s top income tax rate from 8.2 to 4.9 percent where it is now…. Click here to read more.

Oil and gas prices aren’t the only culprits in New Mexico’s revenue crisis

James Jimenez is executive director for New Mexico Voices for Children (NM Voices).

While New Mexico is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, not all of our treasures are as visible as our golden landscape. Below our state’s sunny surface lie abundant natural mineral resources. The extraction of these resources — particularly crude oil and natural gas — have long helped the state provide essential services like education, health care, and public safety, which bolster our economy and improve our quality of life.

Prices for crude oil and natural gas have always fluctuated wildly and always will. They are traded in a global marketplace over which we have no control. That’s why the stewards of the state’s public coffers have long relied on more than just energy-related sources of tax revenue — namely personal and corporate income taxes and the broad-based gross receipts tax (GRT). That stewardship has changed over the past decade or so and big cuts in income taxes and countless exemptions in the GRT have made the state too reliant on revenue from oil and gas. This is a recipe for disaster. That disaster struck about a year ago when oil prices once again tanked and it continues today as prices stay low… Follow this link for the article.

People, Power and Democracy is a collaborative media project between KUNM, New Mexico in Depth, New Mexico PBS and the New Mexico News Port that explores the influence of money in New Mexico politics. Partial support for the project comes from the Thornburg Foundation.

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