Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez Delivers Democratic State of the State Response: 2013

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez delivered the following Dem response to the Gov State of the State speech. This was delivered on January 15, 2013, the first day of the 2013 Legislature. Note, video of speech is at the end of post. Thank you to NMinFocus for video.

New Mexico just concluded our Centennial year – 100 years of statehood in the United States of America. In fact, today marks the inauguration of our first governor as a state.

Then, like now, New Mexicans chose a divided government, though at the time the tables were turned. The new Democratic governor faced a Republican-controlled legislature; yet, they came together to grow New Mexico far beyond what anyone at the time could have imagined.

In his first inaugural address, our first Democratic governor outlined a vision for our new state where fair taxation and quality public education would bring prosperity to its citizens.[1] Coming together, Republicans and Democrats laid a foundation for a new state. We are challenged to finish the work they began. For most of the past 100 years, we have succeeded in living up to that challenge.

But few of us were in the mood to celebrate in the past year. New Mexicans are hurting.While our neighbors in states like Nevada and Colorado are getting back to work, our family and friends in New Mexico continue to lose their jobs. In the past year alone, more than 4800 New Mexican workers – almost 100 a week - lost their jobs[2], along with the dignity that comes from working.

By the time this new legislative session ends 60 days from now, more than 700 more New Mexico families will have joined the ranks of the unemployed.

The legislature’s attempt to stimulate our economy and create jobs was frustrated by the governor last year when she vetoed more than 190 local projects – and the jobs that come with them - from a bi-partisan capital outlay bill.

But avoiding a veto is no guarantee that signed legislation will be implemented. This administration has stalled the construction of a much-needed substance abuse treatment center for women and children that the legislature appropriated last year. Although the project was not vetoed with the other capital outlay projects, the administration has refused to authorize the sale of $5 million in bonds for the project. We encourage the governor to show her commitment to the serious issue of alcohol and substance abuse by moving this project forward.

Her actions and inactions have failed to provide opportunities to address a devastating problem and generate support for the comprehensive middle-class job growth New Mexico needs.

A comprehensive approach to putting people back to work must focus on the majority of everyday New Mexicans who have not and will not benefit from corporate tax breaks. That’s why Democrats are proposing a comprehensive jobs package that raises the statewide minimum wage, expands tax credits for Working Families, and ensures that it is never cheaper for an out-of-state company to do business in New Mexico than it is for our neighbors who built our Main Streets.

Any plan to put people back to work cannot begin and end with tax breaks that benefit non-New Mexican companies more than our homegrown Mom and Pop shops.

In the last session, the legislature passed a bi-partisan bill that lowered the corporate tax rate and leveled the playing field for New Mexico small businesses. Under the bill, all out-of-state corporations would pay the same taxes as their New Mexico competitors. It eliminated the loophole that allowed “big box” out-of-state companies to avoid paying New Mexican taxes.

Sadly, the governor vetoed that legislation as well. But we will not give up. Democrats will continue to try to get the governor’s signature so that local businesses are better able to compete with national corporations.

But building a more attractive business climate for New Mexico takes more than tax breaks. It takes providing sufficient water to meet the demands of a growing economy. Water has always been a scarce resource in our state. With the most recent lawsuit filed by Texas, we must work together to preserve our agricultural traditions while allowing us to grow into the future. This is not a partisan issue. It is a New Mexican issue that affects all of us and future generations.

In addition to having adequate resources, CEOs considering to relocate here look at the ability of our schools to teach their children and train future workers. The owners of homegrown businesses expect nothing less.

Democrats understand that there is a connection between tax cuts for the rich and low performing schools for the poor. The choice to expand tax giveaways for the rich comes at the expense of funding our schools and training tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.

Every student should have the opportunity to succeed in a New Mexico school. But educating our children does not begin on their first day in a classroom. Studies have proven that the first five years of a child’s life are critical in their development. So we will again sponsor legislation to fully fund Pre-K education from the state’s permanent school fund so that we don’t wait on our children to reach third grade before we provide them help.

The path to success also includes training and preparing the teachers who will instill in our children the knowledge to succeed. New Mexico will need 2400 more teachers by 2020.[3] But we can’t recruit those teachers if we continue to insist they spend more time testing than teaching and blame them for all of our problems.

My wife, Lynn, is a public school teacher. Let me tell you, it is no easy task being a teacher. It is no fun to clean up after a sick child nor is it easy to counsel the victim of a bus stop bully. The challenges of our students are as unique as they are, and our teachers need the flexibility and resources to address each and every one properly.

Unfortunately, we have cut millions from our classrooms, resulting in fewer teachers, lower salaries and larger classes – none of which are a part of any formula for success. A recent report by New Mexico Voices for Children showed that cuts to education have been among the deepest in the country since 2011 – yet another list New Mexico should never be on.

While the governor’s budget returns some money to education, little of this new money will end up in our classrooms where it belongs. We propose a different direction that protects a parent’s right to have a voice in their children’s education and a teacher's opportunity to teach to the student, not to the test. That’s why in previous years we have resisted plans to let out-of-state consultants and appointed political bureaucrats interject their judgment for that of parents and professional educators.

We also know that our children can’t succeed if they are too sick to learn. Today, more than 150,000 New Mexicans –including 50,000 children- go without affordable access to the most basic health care. But last week, the governor took an important step towards closing that gap by granting conditional approval for an expansion of Medicaid to cover our poorest neighbors.

Expanding Medicaid was the right decision for New Mexico. In addition to ensuring access to health care for our most vulnerable neighbors, the new health care jobs generated are equivalent to adding an entirely new national lab – not an insignificant fact as federal investment in our labs continues to shrink. But those who will rely on Medicaid cannot count on conditional healthcare. Nor can the new health care workers we will train. The federal government has made a commitment to fund the expansion and we should do the same for those who will soon count on it.

The political climate in Santa Fe today is much different than 101 years ago today. Though Republicans and Democrats had spent decades fighting over statehood, once achieved, the Republican legislature and Democratic governor came together to do what was right for the new-New Mexico.

New Mexico has grown impatient with partisan battles in both Washington and Santa Fe. Last year was the least productive session since 1976[4]. Just 77 bills were passed, and 13 of those were vetoed. New Mexico has spent the past two years marred down in the political back-and-forth that has also enveloped Washington. Predictably, the results are the same. We challenge the governor and our legislative colleagues on the right to set aside partisan attitudes and move quickly to put New Mexicans back to work.

For two years we have made numerous attempts to compromise to reform our drivers’ license system. No doubt, there are those who will continue to prefer playing politics with the issue instead of fixing it. Democrats are not among them and will, once again, offer a hand in compromise to resolve this issue. While many have argued for years that New Mexico was alone, or nearly so, in issuing licenses to non-citizens, the tide is turning – in no small part to DREAM Act-type legislation by President Obama permitting undocumented children to come out of the shadows without fear of deportation to a country they have never known. To date, at least a half-dozen states have announced plans to do so and many more are considering it. It is time to settle this issue in New Mexico once and for all and Democrats are prepared to do it.

Focusing on divisive wedge issues does nothing to address the serious challenges we face, including job creation, pension solvency and school safety.

The heroic sacrifices of educators in Newtown can never be repaid, but it shows just why no investment in education yields bad returns. But our teachers should never be asked to be soldiers in our schools.

Our state has a proud heritage of gun ownership but that heritage has always included a duty for those who choose to own a firearm to do so responsibly. There will, no doubt, be spirited debate on this issue in the coming weeks, and there are some common sense proposals which deserve consideration by those on both sides of the issue. But, each conversation should begin and end with a consideration for how it will prevent the tragedies we have seen in Aurora, Virginia Tech and, now, Newtown, from occurring in Los Lunas, Jal or NMSU.

Finally, no one goes into public service with the goal of getting rich. However, no one should expect that their salaries will decrease. For the last five years, public servants have suffered cuts in their take-home pay to balance the budget. Now as we recover, we need to stop that trend.

Our teachers have also answered our call to help ride out the economic downturn. It is not too much to expect that teachers who taught and tended to our children for 25 or 30 years will receive the pension we promised them when they first signed on. That was the contract and we have a responsibility to keep it. That’s why we will make pension solvency a top priority of this legislature for all of our public servants, be they educators who teach our children, police officers who protect our homes or license clerks in the MVD.

That first governor, speaking in his first inaugural address 101 years ago said this of the politics of the time and of times to come: “As we look into the future, bright hopes of promise appear to some, and dark forebodings may dim the horizon of others. The past is history; the present is the dawn of the future. It is to the future we look and that future will be what we make it.”

We could not agree more. The present is the dawn of the future. Like our predecessors a century before us, we have weathered hard times and are ready for a more prosperous future. Where some see a bleak future for growth and revitalization, we see a chance to reinvest in our middle class and Main Streets. When our grandchildren’s children look back on us a 100 years from now, let us be sure that they see this year as the one where we recommitted to the vision of fair taxes, equal opportunity and strong public education on which our state was founded a century ago.

[1] http://www.newmexicohistory.org/filedetails.php?fileID=460
[2
] https://www.jobs.state.nm.us/admin/gsipub/htmlarea/uploads/lmrnov12.pdf , p.12
[3] https://www.jobs.state.nm.us/admin/gsipub/htmlarea/uploads/lmrnov12.pdf , p. 9
[4] http://www.abqjournal.com/main/2012/02/21/news/legislature-passed-77-bills-least-since-1976.htm

Video above is from NMinFocus Youtube Channel. Thank you NM in Focus!

January 16, 2013 at 09:35 PM in Democrat, Economy, Populism, Education, NM Legislature 2013, Susana Martinez | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

APS and CNM Board Elections - Now Is The Time

Just when you thought it was safe to check your mailboxes again. Here comes another election.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm is the deadline to file your declaration of candidacy for the important Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) Board of Education. The board member positions for school district 3, 5, 6 and 7 are to be decided early in 2013. Forms are available at the County Clerk’s Office. Follow this link for more information regarding this important election.

And the CNM Board elections follow the same deadline to file your declaration of candidacy. Follow this link to see important info re this important election.

Feb 5, 2013 is the election day for both these Board elections.

Now is the time for real believers in evolution to step forward and run for APS board, and how about someone who believes in teaching sex education too. The tea partiers are well organized and are frothing at the mouth to take over our school boards, we can not sit by and let this happen.

December 4, 2012 at 11:02 AM in Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, September 06, 2012

New Mexico’s School Funding Cuts among the Nation’s Deepest

From NM Voices for Children: Cuts hurt economy in short- and long-term.

New Mexico ranks 16th worst in the country in terms of how deeply school funding has been cut since the start of the recession. These cuts put the state’s economy and long-term prosperity in jeopardy.

Investment in K-12 schools is almost 11 percent below 2008 levels, which means New Mexico has made deeper cuts than 34 other states, according to a report released Tuesday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.

“These cuts have undermined our ability to educate New Mexico’s children and there will be consequences for the state’s economy,” said Veronica Garcia, Ed.D., Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children. “Good schools and an educated workforce foster economic growth.”

The recession caused state revenue to decline sharply. But instead of addressing budget shortfalls by taking a balanced approach that includes new revenues, New Mexico relied very heavily on cuts to state services, including education.

The loss of federal emergency financial aid to states and school districts has contributed to education cuts as well. Federal dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Education Jobs Fund helped states limit education cuts initially, but the aid largely expired at the end of Fiscal Year 2011, leaving states to deal with education funding shortfalls on their own.

New Mexico’s K-12 education cuts hurt the state’s economy in the short- and long-term. The cuts have extended the recession by causing both public- and private-sector job losses, slowing the pace of economic recovery. The funding cuts have forced school districts throughout the state to lay off teachers and support staff, reduce pay for the remaining staff, and cancel contracts with private businesses.

Reducing investment in schools also has long-term economic consequences. A strong education system is essential to creating and maintaining a thriving economy. Businesses need a well-educated workforce, and education cuts undermine the state’s ability to produce workers with the skills needed to compete in a global economy.

“Across much of the country, kids are going back to school to find more crowded classrooms, and – in some cases – shorter school weeks,” said Phil Oliff, policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and author of the report. “That’s no way to develop our future workforce and build a strong economy.”

The Center’s full report can be found by following this link.

September 6, 2012 at 01:34 PM in Children and Families, Education, Youth | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Luján Announces Nearly $2 Million in YouthBuild Grants for Northern New Mexico

Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District announced on Wednesday, August 29th that Santa Fe Community College and Luna Community College in Las Vegas are receiving YouthBuild grants that total nearly $2 million. The grants, which are awarded by the Department of Labor, help out-of-school youth earn a GED or high school diploma while learning critical occupational skills in construction, health care, information technology, and other fields. Many participants have been in the juvenile justice system, are aging out of foster care, have dropped out of high school, or are otherwise at risk of failing to reach key educational milestones that lead to career opportunities.

“YouthBuild is a tremendous program that gives young people a second chance to get the education and training they need to get a job and contribute to their community. In addition, it gives them the confidence to achieve their goals,” Congressman Luján said. “The young adults who complete YouthBuild programs demonstrate the determination and perseverance that will be so important to building a successful future for themselves and for their communities.”

Santa Fe Community College is receiving $1,096,661 and Luna Community College is receiving $852,920. The YouthBuild grants announced today are the first awarded under new program regulations, which expand occupational skills training beyond construction to include fast-growing industries such as health care and information technology. The construction skills training programs teach valuable skills to participants who build or rehabilitate housing for local low-income or homeless individuals and families. The non-construction skills training programs include leadership development and community service elements to ensure that youth maintain a connection to their communities through service and volunteerism.

August 31, 2012 at 09:00 AM in Education, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03) | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tax Policy in New Mexico

Guest blog provided by Alicia Manzano. Alicia is the Outreach Director at New Mexico Voices for Children and also leads the New Mexico Fairness Project.

In her June 29 column, “Apples and Activism,” Sherry Robinson dismissed a proposal to close a New Mexico tax loophole that only benefits profitable out-of-state corporations. One of the main problems with her column is that she demonstrates a basic lack of understanding regarding what the proposal—called mandatory combined reporting (MCR)—actually does and does not do. It does not allow New Mexico to tax the profits a company makes in another state. That would be illegal—and the legality of MCR, which has been adopted by most other western states, has been upheld by the Supreme Court. That said, it’s hard to give much credence to the rest of her assertions—particularly her argument that our state’s corporate tax rate is too high. An Ernst and Young study released earlier this year showed that New Mexico’s effective tax rate was among the lowest in nine of our western state neighbors.

In addition, Winthrop Quigley, a business writer for the Albuquerque Journal, recently pointed out that when studies take into account the effect of New Mexico’s wide range of tax incentives, our state’s effective tax rate shrinks by more than 62 percent. The devastating impacts of so many unfair and ineffective loopholes also mean cuts to essential programs and services like education.

When it comes to comparing our state budget to other states, we found especially troubling a report on MSNBC a few weeks ago that listed New Mexico as #1 in the country for “states cutting the most to schools and cities.” Beggaring our schools and infrastructure undermines the foundation for future job growth.

These realities are re-igniting a conversation among New Mexicans about our state’s budget priorities. It has become increasingly hard for defenders of trickle-down economics to justify loopholes and tax breaks that only benefit the wealthiest and big, profitable corporations. That goes for the 2003 state income tax cuts that gave a huge tax cut to New Mexicans in the top income bracket, while providing New Mexicans in the bottom 40 percent with no tax reduction.

The old trickle-down dogma has repeatedly failed. The legacy of both the Bush and New Mexico’s failed tax cut polices for the top 1 percent are plain to see. A sagging economy coupled with the increased transfer of wealth to the richest New Mexicans leaves the rest of us to ponder the value of those tax breaks as vital services are cut and teachers, police officers, and firefighters are laid off.

How much bigger can New Mexico’s class sizes get as teachers are let go? How much longer can we stretch public safety response times due to under-funding for police and firefighters? How much more disinvestment can Main Street New Mexico handle before their small businesses close up shop? How many more hungry children will be turned away from underfunded summer lunch programs? How many more thousands of our toddlers will end up on a child care waiting list?

The executive’s refusal to close this tax loophole, along with the veto of important transparency measures, only harms our ability to make smart decisions regarding our state budget. New Mexicans deserve transparency and hard data about the job creation effectiveness of tax breaks, like those enjoyed by out-of-state corporations.

In tough times like these, New Mexico’s wealthiest 1 percent should be contributing their fair share. New Mexicans also deserve to know how out-of-state corporations have gamed New Mexico’s tax system while not being held accountable for promised job creation that never happened.

At the end of the day, New Mexico needs a tax system that exemplifies the values of fairness, transparency, and accountability.

August 15, 2012 at 02:30 PM in Economy, Populism, Education, Guest Blogger, Taxes | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Mexico Ranks 49th in the Nation in Overall Child Well-being

Child health improved, but not economic, education, and family well-being

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2012 KIDS COUNT® Data Book shows that New Mexico made a few gains in children’s health status, but the state has a long way to go in improving the economic, education, and community-related well-being of its children. The state ranks 49th out of the 50 states. Only Mississippi ranks lower.

This most recent data show that the recession and slow economic recovery are continuing to hurt struggling families in New Mexico. Since 2005, 30,000 more children live in poverty, a number greater than the populations of Deming, Taos, and Truth or Consequences combined. In 2010, more than one-third of the state’s children had parents without secure employment, an increase of 23 percent from just two years before.

“This year’s national KIDS COUNT findings continue to be disappointing. As a state we are not making the kind of growth in reading and math proficiency that we want for our children,” said Dr. Veronica C. Garcia, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children.

This years’ data book looked at 16 indicators of child well-being, broken down into four categories. In those categories, New Mexico ranked 49th in Education, Health, and Family and Community, and 48th in Economic Well-being. “This indicates that it’s important to not look at a student’s academic achievement in isolation, but rather we must work together as New Mexicans to comprehensively address the issues that affect educational outcomes and the economic well-being of our state,” Dr. Garcia added.

New Mexico ranked 46th overall in the 2011 data book, but that score was based on 10 indicators of child well-being.

“Based on the research, we know that access to high-quality care and education services for children from birth to age five promotes academic achievement,” said Dr. Garcia. “However, in our state, 62 percent of our three- and four-year-olds do not have the opportunity to attend preschool. We also know that children’s health is foundational to improved educational outcomes; therefore increased access to affordable, high-quality health care is important. There is supported evidence that when children grow up in a nurturing and caring environment they have better social-emotional, language, and learning outcomes. These outcomes are critical for our children and for the long-term economic development of the state.”

This year’s addition of six new indicators provides users of the data book with a picture of child well-being that better reflects what extensive research has shown is important in child development. “This gives us a more robust and comprehensive tool for assessing how children are doing across states,” said Christine Hollis, NM KIDS COUNT Director.

The data book and other resources are available online at: http://datacenter.kidscount.org/DataBook/2012/.

The KIDS COUNT Data Book provides the latest data on child well-being comparable across all states. This information will be available July 25 in the KIDS COUNT Data Center, http://datacenter.kidscount.org/, which also contains the most recent New Mexico data on hundreds of other indicators of child well-being. The Data Center allows users, even through mobile device access, to create rankings, maps, and trend graphs for use in publications and on websites.

July 25, 2012 at 05:38 PM in Children and Families, Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 06, 2012

Unemployment More than Double for Hispanics than Whites in Abq

Following is a press release from NM Voices for Children regarding a report released on July 2nd, 2012.

The unemployment rate for Hispanics in Albuquerque is more than double the rate for Whites. That’s according to a report released on July 2, 2012 by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The report looks at unemployment rates for Hispanics in 25 metropolitan areas, including Albuquerque.

According to the EPI report, the unemployment rate for Hispanics in Albuquerque was 11.3 percent in 2011. That was up from 9.3 percent in 2010. Albuquerque had the highest ratio of Hispanic-to-White unemployment of all the metro areas. For every White worker who is unemployed, 2.5 Hispanic workers are out of jobs.

“There are several factors at play here. First, the construction sector lost the most jobs after the housing bubble burst, and there was a high concentration of Hispanics in that sector,” said Gerry Bradley, Research Director at New Mexico Voices for Children. “Also, the Hispanic population in New Mexico is younger than the White population overall, so they tend not to have as much seniority at their jobs and generally have lower levels of education than Whites,” he said.

“This report shows the need to improve educational opportunities for Hispanics. The most effective way to do this is to start before children enter the K-12 school system so they are ready to learn when they begin school,” Bradley added.

The overall unemployment rate for May 2012 was 6.7 percent for the state and 6.8 percent for the Albuquerque metro area, according to the NM Department of Workforce Solutions.

The EPI report is available online at: http://www.epi.org/publication/ib336-hispanic-metropolitan-unemployment/

 

July 6, 2012 at 12:44 PM in Children and Families, Education, Hispanic Issues, Unemployment | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Luján Bill to Strengthen Santa Fe Indian School Passes in the U.S. House

Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District spoke on the House floor today in support of H.R. 1556, his legislation to encourage educational sovereignty by providing Santa Fe Indian School with the tools to generate income for its own academic and cultural programs. The bill passed the House with unanimous support and will now move to the Senate to await further action. Below are Luján remarks as prepared. Click below to watch his speech.

“Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank Chairman Hastings, Chairman Young, Ranking Member Markey, and Ranking Member Boren for working with me in the Natural Resources Committee to help address the many issues impacting Indian Country and the tribes I represent in New Mexico.

“I also want to recognize the hard work of the Superintendent of Santa Fe Indian School and Former Governor of Kewa Pueblo, Everett Chavez, and former AIPC President and former NCAI President Joe Garcia on this bill. They worked with the Pueblos and the All Indian Pueblo Council to support this legislation which will help Santa Fe Indian School and New Mexico’s 19 Pueblo’s achieve educational sovereignty for Native American students across New Mexico.

“Santa Fe Indian School and the 19 Pueblos approached my office early last year seeking the introduction of a technical change to the Omnibus Indian Advancement Act to allow certain lands designated to the school to be used to generate income to provide funding for academic and cultural programs at the Indian School. Knowing the importance of what Santa Fe Indian School provides to Native American students in New Mexico, I was very interested in this approach to move toward true financial independence and educational sovereignty for Santa Fe Indian School and its students.

“I want to point out the importance of sovereignty and what it means for our tribal brothers and sisters to be able to provide a quality education for their own children. Education is truly empowering – especially when Native American students are able to get an education that embraces their cultural and traditional identities – and that is the type of education Santa Fe Indian School provides.

“I worked with Superintendent Chavez and Santa Fe Indian School to draft a bill that would make a technical amendment to allow the school to explore economic opportunities so that students at the Indian School can attain the best possible education and to be able to support their mission.

“Santa Fe Indian School provides a challenging, stimulating, and nurturing learning environment that shares educational responsibility with Native communities, parents, and students to develop the students' true potential to meet obligations to themselves and their tribal communities.

“In this time of financial uncertainty and the limitations of the federal government to assist in federal education programs, it is important to give Santa Fe Indian School the tools they need to help their students receive a quality education regardless of the political and financial climate in Washington. H.R. 1556 would achieve that goal.

“I am proud to be able to assist Santa Fe Indian School in amending the Omnibus Indian Advancement Act to allow the school to achieve new heights in educating Native American students. This technical amendment will help make Santa Fe Indian School more self sufficient and create greater opportunities for students attending the Indian School by ensuring the financial capability to maintain and expand the level of academic and cultural education for Native American students.

“This is a common-sense amendment that will help Native Americans students in New Mexico and I urge the support of my colleagues, and I thank the Chairman for his support as well.”

June 19, 2012 at 07:40 PM in Education, Native Americans, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Santa Fe, video | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Destination Education Tour with Hector Balderas

DSC_0029 copy

On Friday May 18, I accompanied New Mexico State Auditor and U.S Senate candidate Hector Balderas as he traveled across the state on his “Destination Education” tour.  Balderas had students from Wagon Mound—many of whom were featured in Balderas’ recent ad—with him.  UFC fighter John Dodson, another New Mexico native, also traveled with us on the campaign bus.

080   035
Balderas to grads                    John Dodson w Mrs.B 

Our first stop was at Albuquerque High School, where Auditor Balderas gave the keynote address at the farewell assembly for the graduating seniors.  Balderas’ touching and inspiration speech to over 1,500 students and staff congratulated the seniors for overcoming great adversity in order to graduate.  Balderas also challenged the students to never let the obstacles ahead stop them from achieving their dreams.  “If you have a plan, work at that plan, and never give up, the world will get out of your way.  I know this because I lived it,” Balderas said.

DSC_1374 copyAfter Balderas’ speech I had the opportunity to get on the campaign bus with Balderas, the students, and Dodson.  It was great getting a chance to talk to the kids from Wagon Mound and hearing why they are so inspired by Balderas’ candidacy.  These Wagon Mound kids were very excited and very proud of their home legend Hector Balderas. The kids were also thrilled to hear about Dodson’s path and career. I asked the kids what they liked about Hector and the video is below.

After about an hour drive we arrived in Santa Fe and met with Representative Luciano “Lucky” Varela and Santa Fe School Board Member Linda Trujillo outside the State Capitol.  The students delivered the letters they had all written explaining what education means to them.  A couple students even read their letters aloud.  Varela and Trujillo were clearly touched and inspired that students traveled so far to express their thoughts and concerns.

DSC_1405 copy
After only two stops on the tour I was exhausted and headed back home. The campaign, on the other hand, was forging ahead, heading to Las Vegas, Taos and Española.                

May 22, 2012 at 11:15 PM in 2012 NM Senate Race, Candidates & Races, Education, Hector Balderas | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Guest Blog from Christine Trujillos Daughter Candidate for HD 25

Christine trujillo with kids
Christine Trujillo above at one of her many rally/marches. Fighting for our children.

I’m Christine’s daughter.

Since I was very young I knew that my mom had a passion for advocacy and social justice. When I was little I didn’t understand it and so it sometimes bothered me – We hardly ever seemed to have a week or weekEND without a meeting or a rally. It seemed like we were always doorknocking or licking stamps and envelopes for people like Bruce King and Jeff Bingaman and Danice Picraux and at the dinner table we’d often have guests in the form of community friends who needed advice, or fellow teachers collaborating on new ideas for their students, or even students or young women who she was mentoring through various organizations. She “dragged” me to meetings for the Human Rights Coalition and MANA de Albuquerque, and rallies with Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.

I didn’t understand it then. Why couldn’t our family be, well, NORMAL? It took me a while but I finally realized that my mother had a commitment to bettering our community that was pretty darn special. Her hard work, her commitment? She was doing it for me and my siblings. She was doing it for her students. She was doing it because we all want to see our communities thrive. We all want to prosper and to see our fellow man do so as well.

I am so proud of my mother for teaching me that we all have a stake in this and it is our right and even our duty to participate in the process. And now that I am a mother with a daughter who I “drag” to
doorknocking/meetings/rallies, I’m so grateful to my mother for teaching me the importance of community. I understand it now.

Thanks, mom. -Michelle

Please support her campaign by helping us door knock, making calls or making a donation. Those of you who have already done so, THANK YOU. We couldn't have gotten this far without your help. If you're interested in doorknocking please call me at (505) 730-0755 or call Christine at (505) 503-8600 for more info. Donate here: https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/ctrujillo

May 12, 2012 at 02:30 PM in 2012 Legislature Races, Education, Guest Blogger | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

House Majority Moves to Cut Children's Health Insurance Program, Could Have Devastating Effects for Uninsured New Mexico Kids

In an effort to stave off the bipartisan agreement to cut federal spending that was signed into law last year, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a measure that would take away an important incentive program that has helped thousands of uninsured children in New Mexico gain access to health care.

CHIP imagesThe measure would eliminate a pay-for-performance incentive plan that rewards states for doing an exemplary job of connecting uninsured kids to coverage. New Mexico has received over $18 Million for efforts in the Richardson administration to cut red tape barriers and reach out to eligible but uninsured children through the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). An estimated 31,500 more uninsured children were connected with coverage.

The incentive plan is one of several successful strategies that have brought the number of uninsured children in America down to a record low. New Mexico made significant progress as the number of uninsured children dropped by 10% from 2007 to 2010.

Background: Created by the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) of 2009, the bonuses reward states for demonstrating concrete success in enrolling low-income uninsured children in state Medicaid funded plans. To qualify, states must adopt one of a series of measures that simplify enrollment in coverage and reach enrollment targets. To date, the bonuses have worked exactly as intended - rewarding states for tackling the challenge of making sure that the lowest-income children in this country are connected to coverage.

During this recession, CHIP and Medicaid have been hard at work helping families unable to afford private health insurance to secure coverage for their children. When kids are healthy, we all win ”they are more likely to grow and learn in school, and their parents have peace of mind that an asthma attack or accident won't send them to the emergency room and break the bank."

Connecting eligible but uninsured children to coverage is a high priority for the Obama Administration. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has called on leaders at every level of government and the private sector to find and enroll the nearly five million uninsured children who are eligible for Medicaid and CHIP through her "Connecting Kids to Coverage" challenge.

There are still an estimated 50,000 children in New Mexico who are eligible for Medicaid coverage but are not yet enrolled.

Bill Jordan, Policy Director for New Mexico Voices for Children said: "It would be shameful for the U.S. House of Representatives to terminate the bonus program and remove one of the incentives for states like New Mexico to enroll more kids in Medicaid.  Insurance coverage not only contributes to their health but it helps kids stay in school and focus on their studies, instead of missing school and being distracted by medical issues that could have been treated."

May 8, 2012 at 04:05 PM in Children and Families, Education, Healthcare, Youth | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 07, 2012

Teachers and Education Leaders Support Eleanor Chavez

Eleanor Chavez candidate for NM Senate District 14 has officially been endorsed by:

  • Albuquerque Teachers Federation Local 1420
  • National Education Association-NM
  • Albuquerque Educational Assistants Association Local 4129
  • Albuquerque Secretarial and Clerical Association Local 4127

“I am extremely grateful to have the support of teachers, school counselors, psychologists, social workers, librarians, nurses, secretaries, clerical employees and educational assistants. I appreciate and value their dedication to the success of our children. I will always be committed to supporting our team of teachers and all education employees who work hard everyday to provide students with the quality education they deserve,” said Eleanor.

Eleanor understands that New Mexico faces many unique challenges. As a member of the Legislative Education Study Committee, Eleanor actively supported a constitutional amendment to fund early childhood education and signed on as a cosponsor of Rep. Miera’s HJR15. She believes that we can improve educational outcomes in our state by investing in the early years of a child’s learning, reducing class sizes and supporting our teachers.

“I believe that providing access to a quality education is the key to improving our economy and the lives of all New Mexicans,” said Eleanor Chavez.

Please click here (http://www.eleanorchavez.com/endorsements/) to see a complete list of Eleanor’s endorsements.

May 7, 2012 at 07:00 PM in 2012 NM Senate Race, Candidates & Races, Education | Permalink | Comments (0)