Friday, March 23, 2012
Civic Engagement Effort Fosters Values of Transparency, Accountability and Fairness
It’s a truth that should be self-evident – but it cannot be restated often enough.
New Mexicans deserve transparency and accountability – especially when it comes to votes cast on vital issues by their elected lawmakers. Typically, however, legislative decisions on complicated issues like tax policy fly under the radar of media scrutiny and public perception.
The last legislative session offers a perfect example with the historic effort to close that monstrous corporate tax loophole which allows out-of-state Big Box retailers to avoid paying income tax on the massive profits they earn in our state.
The Monstrous Corporate Tax Loophole
To be clear, calling it historic is not a nod to hyperbole. The bill to eliminate this massive corporate tax giveaway (Senate Bill 9 – the Corporate Fair Tax Act) succeeded in passing both houses of the New Mexico legislature this year after eight previous attempts over the last decade had met with failure. In fact, those prior bills usually failed because they were killed in the committee process.
Two committees in particular have proven to be a particular problem.
Tax reform bills must run what at times seem to be two impassable gauntlet -- the Senate Corporations and Transportation and the House Business and Industry Committees. And always, a phalanx of corporate lobbyists are posted at these gauntlets, standing guard to protect entrenched power and privilege. Their inordinate influence at the Roundhouse can make them into something akin to an extra-constitutional “third house” of the legislature.
But this year was different. These obstacles were surmounted and the bill passed! This was a landmark event and a time for celebration.
For this was the year legislators that got the message from their constituents – an newly informed citizenry who understood the fundamental value at stake in this fight – it was the value of basic fairness for New Mexico families and for our local businesses who had been placed at a competitive disadvantage.
Oh, and let’s not fail to mention that SB9 actually cut taxes for New Mexico business corporations and that it was a net job saver as well?
For every one job created by a big box retailer like WalMart, 1.4 jobs are lost to existing local businesses that downsize, according to a University of California-Irvine study.
Alas, the celebration was short-lived, for on March 6th SB9 crashed into the last redoubt of corporate power and influence – the Governor’s office. On that day Governor Susana Martinez vetoed SB9. Once again, New Mexico was left as one of the only remaining Western states to still permit itself to be taken advantage of by corporate greed.
What this means, of course, is that the fight for tax justice will go on a little longer. Rest assured that the bill will be coming back in the 2013 legislative session.
Check your mailbox
And this is precisely why constituents of a number of New Mexico state legislators are this week receiving post-session follow-up educational mailers that explain the fate of Senate Bill 9 and how their particular senator or representative voted on the bill, and encourage them to engage these lawmakers in a continued dialogue about tax policy and budget priorities.
New Mexico’s Center for Civic Policy (CCP) and the SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP) have proudly partnered to produce these mailings. Our two organizations share a core mission that obligates us to educate the public about policy issues that impact their lives and to foster greater civic engagement with the policy-making process and elected officials.
Prior to the legislative session, CCP and SWOP distributed another set of educational mailers to the districts of legislators who sat on those key committees that would hear and vote on SB9. To say that we were overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response to those pre-session mailers is an understatement. Those mailers contributed to generating hundreds of constituent phone calls to legislators during the session. And those phone calls made a difference.
We learned an inspiring lesson. Civic engagement (aka democracy in action) works! Legislators responded. Senate Bill 9 passed.
Civic Engagement Works
Democracy is never easy. It requires eternal vigilance and careful attention. And a constant learning and re-learning.
Another lesson worth relearning is that we must never forget that most legislators are seriously well-intentioned individuals who do care about the common good. New Mexico’s unpaid citizen legislators make considerable sacrifice to serve.
Nevertheless, we cannot stress enough the importance of our lawmakers hearing from their folks back home on the issues that impact the everyday lives of working families – because if they don’t get that call, the only voice they will hear at the Roundhouse when it’s time to vote is that of the corporate lobbyist whispering in their ears.
The incentives to do the wrong thing are ever-present. And sadly, herein lies another essential lesson.
All too often we see lawmakers succumb to lobbyist pressure (not to mention the inducement of campaign contributions). Thus, they take the easy way out. And it’s this go-along-to-get-along S.O.P that enables bad outcomes when it seems like nobody back home is really paying attention to the fuzzy policy details and that nobody really cares.
However, we’re pleased to report that people do care. And on the issue of the out-of-state, corporate tax loophole, polling released by the Green Chamber of Commerce shows that 70% of New Mexicans care a great deal!
The people just need accurate and complete information. And, above all, they need that spark of an idea that helps them realize that their participation can actually make a difference. Then they will act.
Friday, February 24, 2012
HIV/AIDS Interview With CD1 Candidates; Guest Blog by Marshall Martinez
Roughly a month ago, I wrote a guest post on Democracy for New Mexico about Federal HIV Policy issues. (that blog can be found here.)
After writing that blog, I interviewed the 3 Democratic candidates for the First Congressional District house seat about these same issues. The goal of this post is not to endorse any of the candidates. It is not intended to portray any candidate in a better or worse light than the others. My goal is purely to remind the public of the importance of this issue, and relay to the public the thoughts of my local candidates and elected officials on this oft-forgotten issue.
In 2012, HIV continues to have a deadly grip on our society and there are many ways that the federal government can help us avoid necessary deaths and transmission of this virus. This issue will be near the top of the list of considerations I use when choosing my candidates for the June 5th Primary and November 6th General Elections. I implore you to put them somewhere on your own list, as well.
I interviewed Michelle Lujan Grisham—current Bernalillo County Commissioner and former Secretary of the NM Dept. of Health; Eric Griego—NM State Senator and former ABQ City Councilor; and Marty Chavez—former NM State Senator and Mayor of ABQ.
My first topic of discussion with the candidates was a relatively black and white issue: Syringe Exchange Ban on a federal level. This ban works much like the “Global Gag Rule” prohibiting any federal funding to be awarded to any organization that also provides clean/new needles to IV drug users to help prevent transmission of HIV and other blood-borne pathogens.
All three of the candidates immediately answered this question the same, they would approach such an issue from a public health perspective. They understood that morality and politics have no place in this particular debate, as we are simply putting more people at risk because we as a society have judged their behavior as unworthy of protection. Chavez called the issue a “low hanging fruit” for the conservatives who believe they could easily win on an issue that is hard to explain to the average voters, Griego stated that the issue “needs to be de-politicized” and Grisham stated that the “ideology behind the issue is inappropriate and irresponsible.”
Criminalization of HIV-positive people is a major issue in the US. Many states have laws that criminalize or increase the severity of crimes based on HIV status. There is no doubt the goal of this was to reduce transmission because of malice or negligence, but we now know as advocates that is not the outcome achieved. In discussing this issue, Grisham immediately said we need to do more work on education about the issue, since this is still a problem. She also insisted that we focus our energy on prevention, rather than continuing to spend resources enforcing criminalization statutes. Griego said the first step in addressing these issues is to think about public health; once we have discovered what works to expand public health, we do the “right thing,” regardless of fears or feelings of morality. Griego also said we can count on him not to support criminalization in New Mexico if any were to be introduced. Chavez, while questioning the role of the federal government in state laws on criminalization, pointed out his record as a state senator—sponsoring the difficult and often trailblazing legislation at the time, including his law that finally outlawed spousal rape in NM. The connection he made was that, though de-criminalizing HIV might not be popular even today, it’s the right thing to do and he would be happy to support it.
The issues get a bit more difficult, having to navigate budget/revenue issues and healthcare reform, while keeping the discussion focused on HIV policy. The candidates didn’t have a difficult time, but I sure did. AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) is funding used to help low-income and underinsured people living with HIV afford their medications. States face budget cuts in every area and some states have already begun to develop waiting lists for ADAP funding, preventing thousands of Americans from accessing the life-saving medications they need. Grisham immediately made connections that I didn’t have to draw for her: “treatment of the virus is prevention of the virus. We have to set the framework for priorities in our nation’s budget, which means we have to stop having the conversation as a budget conversation and have it as a policy conversation as well.” Chavez explained that we have severe budget issues in this nation, drawing the picture of borrowing .42 for every dollar spent from foreign investors. Griego drew the largest distinction on this particular issue, pointing out that he supports more broad changes to healthcare policy in America, rather than tweaking a still broken system. Griego was quick to demonstrate that there are many barriers to making HIV medications—and all life-saving/improving medication more affordable—including but not limited to patent laws, HMO/pharmaceutical formulary revisions, and our lack of better high risk insurance pool policy or “public option” in Federal Healthcare Reform. It’s not easy to parse budget, healthcare, and HIV Policy issues clearly. Each candidate demonstrated a different understanding and approach to these issues, though all agree clearly that access to HIV medications is our moral obligation.
Rounding up the conversations, I discussed prevention methods and their funding, how to make this issue more “sexy” on a societal level, and my own less frequently discussed issue of doctors giving positive test results without knowing or considering the emotional and psychological weight it has on the patient. The three candidates had much to say on these topics, though each of them were flattering and supportive in a similar fashion—telling me that the work I am doing is helping to raise the public profile of HIV Issues. I appreciate the flattery guys, but let’s not add to my already growing ego!!!
In all seriousness, each of the candidates approached this topic more conversationally, bringing in much more of their individual experiences and ideas about policy overall.
Griego pointed out his success with a Public Safety Tax for the city and creating programs that are geared toward prevention, his recent accomplishments on Addiction Issues in the South Valley and understanding a community approach to prevention and healthcare overall. Griego has a wonderful grasp on community based approaches to healthcare and especially prevention techniques for multiple issues, including HIV. Coming from a community that is close-knit and knows that positive relationships can have a huge impact the prevalence for higher risk behaviors, he understands that approaching high risk behaviors with our youth is the key to creating a healthier generation and or target of reaching a Generation without AIDS, soon.
Chavez has a lengthy legislative and executive history with many policies of which to be proud. He reminds us of the creation of the “311” system in Albuquerque, which is all about relaying information to people in Albuquerque, and points out that in a digital age, when technology puts information at the tip of or fingers there is no reason that we can’t create more easily accessible information and resources for doctors, patients and average citizens regarding HIV. He also pointed out that I do not know if our current Representatives’ or Senators’ offices would be able to direct a caller to information on testing, preventing or accessing counseling for HIV, if he were the CD-1 Representative his office will be able to direct constituents to HIV Information.
Grisham has much public health information to backup her understanding of these issues. She pointed out that we ought to create incentives for medical schools to develop curriculum that helps students deliver HIV positive test results with care for the emotional and psychological aspects. Grisham also understands, with incredible nuance the need and benefit of evidence-based prevention methodology. With such rich background in Public Health, Grisham is able to speak eloquently to the need to have full policy discussions around these issues, rather than trying to pull the larger issue away from the budget, prevention or healthcare debate.
It is fair to say that we are very fortunate to have such understanding, compassionate, and morally sound Democrats running in the First Congressional District, at least with Regard to HIV Policy. Whether it is Mayor Chavez speaking with remorse and grief over the loss of friends in the 80s and 90s to this horrific plague; Senator Griego speaking with passion to the abilities we have to prevent and even eradicate this plague from our society with the strength of a community-based approach to healthcare; or Commissioner Lujan-Grisham delving deep into the intricate details of policy and public health, ready to debate with the most conservative personality backed up by evidence; we are blessed in the First Congressional District.
All three candidates promised they would continue to research, discuss, advocate for, and champion the issue of HIV prevention and treatment. I challenge you, as voters and constituents in this district, to hold these candidates accountable to their promises; I will continue to do so to the best of my ability. This is an issue of moral and fiscal obligation in our time, 30 years after the onset of this plague, and we must band together to eradicate it from our world.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Fact Checking Governor Susana Martinez State of the State Speech
The governor had a few surprises at last Tuesday's State of the State address. Exaggerations or out rite lies? Little did we know that the governor had single-handedly balanced the budget, closed tax loopholes for her favorite out-of-state corporate donors. And, did you know that her cuts to education actually increased classroom spending?
Well, so says the governor in her "pat me on the back" address. In the interest of holding Governor Martinez to her pledge to be an honest public official, we thought we'd take a look at the facts behind a few points in her state of the state address.
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Chris Cervini to Open Strategies 360 New Mexico Office Today
Strategies 360 is expanding its reach to New Mexico with the addition of Chris Cervini, former chief of staff for New Mexico’s Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish, according to a press release. As Vice President of New Mexico operations, Chris will open and run the new Albuquerque office for the strategic communications firm headquartered in Seattle.
Chris brings more than 14 years of public relations, media, public policy and private-sector experience to Strategies 360. He has served as chief of staff and communications and policy director for New Mexico’s Lieutenant Governor, and spokesman and external communications manager for Lovelace Health System, a division of Ardent Health Services.
“Expanding our presence and services across the Western U.S. will generate tremendous value for our clients. It enables us to create the environment for success across a larger geographic, business and political landscape. New Mexico is a smart move because of the business potential of the state, and the talent of Chris Cervini,” said Eric Sorenson, president and co-founder of Strategies 360.
A former journalist at the Albuquerque Tribune, Chris understands both media and politics and has expertise in crisis communications, media relations, message development, government relations and strategic communications.
“We’re delighted to have somebody with Chris’s background and credentials join our growing family. He’s the right person to allow us to serve New Mexico right from the get-go,” said Ron Dotzauer, CEO and co-founder of Strategies 360.
S360 noted that Chris has broad experience in policy topics including economic development, budget, education, health care, behavioral health and government reform. He also brings statewide reach with strong contacts throughout New Mexico.
Chris holds a master’s degree in political science from The American University in Washington, D.C., and a B.A. from the University of New Mexico in communications and political science.
“I’m very excited Strategies 360 is making a strong investment in New Mexico,” Chris Cervini said. “The S360 team, like me, is committed to offering the highest level of service and providing New Mexico clients with an impressive range of offerings. Joining this talented, western-focused team was a no-brainer.”
Chris can be reached at: email@example.com or 505-980-6110.
Strategies 360 specializes in creating the environment for client success. The firm started in 2004 in Seattle, and now has a total of nine offices in Alaska, Montana, Oregon, Spokane and Olympia, Wash., Idaho and Washington, D.C. Clients range across dozens of industries, including energy, natural resources, technology, health care, agriculture, land use, manufacturing, education, transportation, nonprofits, and others.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The Common Sense Solution to Deficits? Tax Those Who Have Gotten a Free Ride
Nice rundown by Tracy Dingmann at Clearly New Mexico on the America Speaks town halls on the federal budget that took place in cities nationwide this past Saturday, including Albuquerque. Also be sure to follow her links to a couple of good posts on this on New Mexico FBIHOP.
The intent of the town halls has been called into question, with critics noting that one of their primary organizers -- billionaire Pete Peterson -- has been intent on making drastic cuts to "entitlements" like Social Security and Medicare for many years. Clearly, the focus of the events was to encourage participants to see our already meager social safety net as the main culprit in deficit spending, and to ignore the impact of such things as the massive revenue losses created by Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy and no-end-in-sight spending on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which Bush and the Congress have refused to pay for by raising revenues.
Despite the thinly veiled attempt by Peterson et al. to push attendees towards pre-conceived, right-wing notions about government spending and taxation -- not to mention that the makeup of attendees was not representative of American demographics -- a majority of participants managed to see things through a different, more progressive lens. As noted in an article on New Deal 2.0:
Remarkably, however, AmericaSpeaks got lucky (or perhaps, from Peterson’s point of view, unlucky.) Despite all the biases, on several issues town hall participants came up with opinions not very different from those that have been expressed by majorities of Americans in dozens of well-designed national surveys. Participants opposed cuts in Social Security benefits, insisting that benefits must be preserved when balancing the budget. They wanted to strengthen the economy, favoring the current stimulus bill (stalled in the Senate) by a margin of 51% to 38%. In order to reduce budget deficits, most favored cutting defense spending and enacting progressive tax measures: raising the payroll tax “cap” so that incomes over $106,800 are subject to the tax (85% in favor); raising high-end corporate and personal income taxes; and imposing new taxes on carbon and on securities transactions. Only on the Social Security retirement age did the results conspicuously stray from actual public opinion.
Dean Baker, a critic of the manipulative nature of the town halls, provides another good analysis of how the America Speaks effort backfired on Peterson and other anti-Social Security and Medicare zealots:
Given this stacked deck the participants rose up in revolt. They demanded the option to vote on a single-payer type health care system. The idea being to reduce costs by making health care more efficient rather than just cutting services in Medicare and other public sector programs. They also voted overwhelmingly for defense cuts and for every progressive tax option in the book, even though many had been seriously mischaracterized. For example, they listed the potential revenue from a financial speculation tax in 2025 as $30 billion a year even though there is good reason, based on the experience of other countries, to believe that we could raise close to ten times this amount.
Richard (RJ) Eskow, who also warned beforehand that the town halls were meant to persuade rather than sample, came away from the experience calling them "A Mind Control Experiment Gone Horribly Right."
And the Dems?
In response to right-wing pressure, President Obama has appointed what's being called a "deficit commission" to wrangle with a federal deficit that suddenly concerns Republicans and corporate-loving Democrats, despite the fact that most respected economists say cutting spending during a deep and widespread "recession" would be economic suicide. Take Paul Krugman, for example, who says such cuts -- which were also pushed at the recent G20 confab -- would create a Third Depression. Many progressives and Democrats are not amused, including Naomi Klein, who views such proposals as a way to force ordinary people to pay for a crisis caused by wealthy elites and greedy bankers.
Isn't it time we do the obvious to clean up the financial chaos produced by mega-corporations and wealthy chiselers? Tax the people who made out like bandits during the deregulation, de-taxation free for all -- globally, nationally and even right here in New Mexico. Democratic candidates, officeholders and leaders -- are you listening?
Working families, teachers, Social Security recipients, those on Medicaid or Medicare and other ordinary Americans cannot take additional cuts so that the most well off among us can continue to avoid paying their fare share for the common good. There's no way around it and it's time for more Democratic leaders to start speaking truth to power instead of discussing what ails us entirely within right-wing frames that deem vital services we pay for as "entitlements."
Monday, June 21, 2010
6/30: NM First Policy Forum on Bipartisanship at National Hispanic Cultural Center
From New Mexico First:
The public policy organization New Mexico First is hosting its annual First Forum, this year titled: Collaborative Politics: Now More Than Ever. This event, moderated by ABC newsman Sam Donaldson, features the co-chairs of the Commission on Presidential Debates, Mike McCurry (Clinton White House press secretary) and Frank Fahrenkopf (Reagan-era Republican National Committee chair). They will talk from the national perspective about the condition of our democracy, cross-party collaboration and strategies for bringing Americans together. The speakers will also offer first-hand insights on bi-partisanship.
The policy forum will take place on Wednesday, June 30th, from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM, at the National Hispanic Cultural Center located at 1701 4th Street SW in Albuquerque. A reception precedes the event at 6:00 PM. Tickets are $35 and may be purchased at www.nmfirst.org.
The event also honors state and civic leaders who have proven their ability to work across party lines. Honorees include U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, retired U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, Ambassador Edward Romero, civic leader Edward Lujan and the late Patty Jennings. Additional awardees in the areas of education, energy and economic development will be announced soon.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
New Analysis of Clean Energy Economy Shows NM Leads Rocky Mountain States in Growth of Green Energy Jobs
A new report by Headwaters Economics -- that's chock full of fascinating data about the clean energy economy -- shows that New Mexico has emerged as a clean energy leader, increasing its percentage of green jobs faster than other Rocky Mountain States. New Mexico’s combined strategy of targeted public policy and strong support for business has made it a regional and national competitive center of clean technology innovation, especially solar power, which is capturing energy-related jobs and attracting investment, according to the study.
New Mexico’s green economy jobs grew by 62 percent between 1995 and 2007.
Southwestern New Mexico’s “Solar Valley” is one of the best places in the country for solar power generation. Eastern New Mexico is emerging as a center for wind power.
New Mexico policymakers, from Governor to county commissioner, have made succeeding in the clean energy economy a public priority.
The state’s strong policies and incentives, when combined with world-class research facilities such as Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, give it a winning advantage to attract jobs.
“New Mexico’s success shows the importance of both policy and political leadership at all levels of government, from county commissioner to United States Senator,” said Julia Haggerty Ph.D., the report’s author, in a statement released today. “The state’s aggressive outreach program, backed by strong incentives -- including property tax breaks, bonding, and worker training -- has attracted new businesses and jobs to the state.”
The Headwaters Economics study compares how New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming -- five states with vast traditional and clean energy resources -- are taking advantage of clean energy opportunities and concludes with five keys to success for the states to further benefit from the emerging green economy while measuring the likelihood that each state’s policies will promote future growth and investment.
or visit headwaterseconomics.org/greeneconomy/ for all of the materials related to the study, including recommended additional reading.
Green Economy Jobs
Using a conservative measurement of green jobs, the report -- Clean Energy Leadership in the Rockies: Competitive Positioning in the Emerging Green Economy -- found that employment in the green economy has grown significantly faster than total employment. In New Mexico, for example, the number of overall jobs in 2007 was 13 percent greater than in 1995, compared to 62 percent growth in the green jobs sector. Looking at the five-state region, from 1995 to 2007 total job growth was 19 percent, while job growth in the core green economy was 30 percent. Nationwide, overall jobs grew by 10 percent, compared to green job growth of 18 percent from 1995 to 2007.
Looking at business establishments, in 2007 the five states supported 3,567 green enterprises with 50 percent based in Colorado, 16 percent in New Mexico and in Utah, 11 percent in Montana, and 6 percent in Wyoming.
“All of the states have opportunities to benefit from the green economy, but it does not happen by accident,” said Haggerty. “States performing the best -- such as New Mexico and Colorado -- have made a strong, deliberate, and lasting commitment to growing their green economy.”
The Clean Energy report also measures private and public investment for the five states. In 2008, the study region attracted more than $500 million dollars in clean energy-oriented venture capital, a ten-fold increase compared to 2000 levels. In New Mexico these investments totaled $239 million between 1999 and 2008, and the state ranked 12th nationally from 2006-2008, the latest three years available. When looking at public funding, Colorado ranked 15th among the 52 states and territories in receiving competitively awarded federal stimulus grants from the Department of Energy. Utah and New Mexico fell toward the middle of the pack, ranked 30th and 37th, while Wyoming and Montana ranked 49th and 52nd respectively.
Renewable energy production is growing in all five states, and there is every reason to expect continued rapid expansion. Among the five states, Montana and Wyoming stand out for their wind and geothermal potential, Utah for its solar and geothermal, and Colorado and New Mexico for strength in all three. From 1990 to 2007, New Mexico’s renewable energy production has grown by more than 200 percent, the highest rate of the five states.
On a more cautionary note, the study found an uneven record for how the five states are pursuing energy efficiency -- a necessary, cost-effective part of any long-term economic strategy; though New Mexico has an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) aimed at utility companies.
Why New Mexico Leads
New Mexico policymakers have made succeeding in the clean energy economy a public priority. This leadership, when combined with strong policies, an attractive set of incentives and world-class research facilities such as Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, gives New Mexico a winning advantage to attract jobs.
The state has demonstrated a commitment to turning its advantages into entrepreneurial success, as with New Mexico 9000, an alliance of the New Mexico Economic Development Department and Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies. This coalition provides logistical and financial assistance for attaining ISO (International Organization for Standardization) compliance, which is key to selling products internationally.
Five Key Steps to Future Growth
States can do a great deal to benefit their future position, and the Clean Energy report concludes with five keys to success needed for the region and New Mexico to foster continued growth:
1) Strategic Pairing of Incentives with Clear Policy Goals. Progress depends on a smart mix of appropriate incentives and regulations, such as Renewable Portfolio Standards with meaningful targets and compliance strategies. New Mexico has strong clean energy and efficiency mandates. By comparison, Utah has failed to create certainty for the clean energy sector with its weak renewable mandate and fossil fuel-focused energy development incentives.
2) Encourage and Capture Large-Scale Investment. To attract growing private investment and billions of federal dollars, states must have a mix of policies, incentives and proven development expertise. New Mexico is a leader, ranking 12th in the nation for attracting clean technology venture capital from 2006 to 2008. Montana, in contrast, failed to capture any clean technology venture capital in the period 1999 to 2008.
3) Cultivate a Well-Resourced Business Environment. Companies on the cutting edge of technological development benefit from skilled workers and access to world class research institutions. New Mexico’s two national labs, combined with a growing high technology manufacturing base around Albuquerque, make this state a regional and national leader.
4) Leadership. Developers and manufacturers of clean energy and energy efficiency technologies operate in a highly competitive global environment, and they need to see consistent leadership in order to commit to a state. The governors of three states -- New Mexico, Colorado, and Montana -- all have made significant clean energy outreach efforts that have paid off with the successful recruitment of global corporations to each state and established their reputations as leaders, particularly for New Mexico and Colorado, within clean technology sectors.
5) Overcome Limited Infrastructure Capacity. To fully cultivate their renewable energy resources, the five states must overcome an inadequate infrastructure; which includes an outdated, overstressed electrical grid as well as federal, state, and local governments that currently lack the capacity and the necessary plans to respond to permits for new construction (for new facilities and transmission lines). New Mexico and Colorado were later (2007) to establish state infrastructure authorities.
About Headwaters Economics
Headwaters Economics is an independent, nonprofit research group that assists the public and elected officials in making informed choices about energy development.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
2009 KIDS COUNT Shows Some Improvements in NM Child Well-Being
From New Mexico Voices for Children: New Mexico has moved up from last year's ranking of 48th in the nation for child well-being to 43rd. That's according to the 2009 KIDS COUNT Data Book, the newest edition of the annual state-by-state study on the health and welfare of America's youth. The data book, which is published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, was released today. It shows that New Mexico has also improved its ranking on six of the ten key indicators of child well-being since 2000.
Still, the report presents a mixed picture for our state's kids. New Mexico ranks among the bottom ten states on four of the ten key indicators used in the report: teen birth rate (ranking 49th among the states), children without secure parental employment (ranking 44th), child poverty rate (ranking 47th), and children living in single-parent families (ranking 48th).
Some of the most striking improvements are in New Mexico's infant mortality and teen dropout rates. "Our low infant mortality rate has long been the highlight in the KIDS COUNT data book," said Christine Hollis, KIDS COUNT program manager at New Mexico Voices for Children. New Mexico's infant mortality rate is lower than the national average, ranking us 14th in that indicator.
In addition, New Mexico's teen dropout rate has been cut in half since 2000, ranking New Mexico 36th nationally. KIDS COUNT defines this indicator as the percentage of 16- to 19-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and are not high school graduates. This definition may not track exactly with how New Mexico’s Public Education Department determines dropout rates, however.
"The expansion of our investment in Medicaid and education, especially Pre-K and K-12, during the Richardson/Denish administration is starting to pay off," Eric Griego, Executive Director of NM Voices said. "However, more investment is still needed to move these numbers further, particularly given the current economic downturn."
The 2009 KIDS COUNT report contains the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data available – most of it from 2006-07 – which do not reflect the effects of the current recession.
NM Voices, the Annie E. Casey KIDS COUNT state affiliate, has prepared a supplement to the Data Book, available at www.nmvoices.org/kidscount.htm showing more clearly New Mexico's ranking on each of the ten measures, what the state would need to do to gain a national ranking of #1, and policy efforts that could help move New Mexico in this direction. A link to the national data book can also be found there.
Nationally, the data book shows large disparities for children based on race or ethnicity, which may impact New Mexico's ranking.
"Because New Mexico is a minority-majority state, we are concerned that the report shows that, on several measures, Hispanic child well-being is worse than child well-being in the US as a whole," said Hollis. Hispanic teens, for example, have the highest teen birth rate nationally (83 births per 1000 females ages 15-19, compared to the overall teen birth rate of 42 per 1000), and more than one-third of the country's Hispanic children live in single-parent families.
"New Mexico also has the second highest percentage of Native-Americans, and the indicators for Native-American children are dismal," Hollis added. Nationally, Native Americans have the highest teen death rate (95 deaths per 100,000 teens ages 15-19, as opposed to the national average of 64/100,000), and more than half (52 percent) of Native-American children live in families where no parent has full-time, secure employment, versus 33 percent of US children overall.
This year's report marks two decades of KIDS COUNT data collection and includes an essay that takes stock of how much progress the country as a whole has made in collecting data that can help move public policies that improve children's well-being.
In the 20 years of data books, New Mexico has always ranked in the bottom ten among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. We hit our highest overall ranking of 40th in 1995. Our lowest ranking of 48th dogged us for five years in 1999, 2001, 2004, 2006, and 2008.
This year's Data Book is complemented by the launch of an expanded web-based KIDS COUNT Data Center containing multiple measures of child well-being that include information on national, state, county and metropolitan levels. Information specific to New Mexico is found at http://datacenter.kidscount.org/nm.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
KUNM's Social Justice Fair with David Barsamian Set for 6.8.09
From KUNM: David Barsamian, the award-winning founder and director of Alternative Radio, will be speaking at KUNM’s first-ever Social Justice Fair on Monday, June 8th. We invite you to come to the UNM Continuing Education Conference Center at 1634 University Boulevard NE in Albuquerque at 6:30 PM to check out what local organizations are doing for social justice, and then stay for David Barsamian’s speech at 7 PM. He is a witty and engaging speaker, and we will be giving out quite a few really great door prizes (CDs, restaurant gift certificates, etc.) to people in random numbered seats.
Barsamian has been working in radio since 1978. Over the years he has interviewed the likes of Angela Davis, Ralph Nader, Vandana Shiva, and Carlos Fuentes. In addition to his radio work he is an author and lecturer. His interviews and articles appear regularly in The Progressive, The Nation, and Z Magazine. He is the author of numerous books with Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Eqbal Ahmad, Tariq Ali and Edward Said. His series of books with Chomsky, America's leading dissident, have sold in the hundreds of thousands and have been translated into many languages. His latest books are What We Say Goes with Noam Chomsky and Targeting Iran. Barsamian also lectures on U.S. foreign policy, corporate control, the media, and propaganda.
Tickets for the event are $5, but if you are a current KUNM member and reserve your tickets ahead of time, you will pay for only 1 but get 2. It’s a benefit of membership.
To reserve your 2 tickets for the price of 1, call Cris Nichols at 505-277-3968 or Carol Boss at 505-277-0768 before 5 PM on Thursday, June 4th. The 2-for-1 membership special will NOT be available at the door because we need to verify that your membership is current and we do not want to tie up a line at the event by checking against a roster of thousands of current members.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Guest Blog: Worst Time for a TIDD
This is a guest blog by Greg Lennes of Las Cruces:
Our state legislature should stand up for New Mexicans and be fiscally responsible. The Roundhouse is being manipulated by the highly paid and skilled SunCal and Westland lobbyists: Mark Fleisher, Arthur Hill, Allison Kuper, Dick Minzer, Robert Rivera, Marla Shoats, Joseph Thompson, Daniel Weaks, Vanessa Alarid and William Steadman. We don’t need to assist developers by giving Westland Development a bailout with a $408 million bond issue related to an unnecessary Tax Increment Development District (TIDD). SunCal had 20 bankruptcies in California. We should not tie up state money for 28 years with these companies. During this country’s economic crisis, the state legislature should address the needs of the hard-pressed and struggling New Mexican taxpayers.
Let's support a common sense piece of legislation introduced by State Senator Steve Fischmann – SB 576 – that would limit TIDD revenue to only those taxes from businesses that are 100% new to New Mexico (either relocating from out-of-state or start-ups). I can't give you a campaign contribution like SunCal, but I believe Senator Fischmann's legislation is right for New Mexico.
Also see our earlier post today on this topic. SB 576 is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Finance Committee this afternoon. If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the "Email Me" link on the upper left-hand corner of the page.
Today: Urge Support for Bill to Limit TIDD Financing
Time Frame: This morning!
Issue: Limiting state tax increment financing to new economic activity
Background: The state is poised to promise more than $1 billion in future tax revenue as a development incentive to just a handful of tax increment development districts (TIDDs) in Albuquerque and Las Cruces. This is tax revenue that normally would have gone into the state's general fund and benefited the whole state through programs like education, health care, and public safety. One of the main arguments for doing this is that the new developments will bring lots of new economic activity to the state. The counter argument is that most of the TIDDs' economic activity will actually come from other areas of the state – in essence, cannibalizing an existing source of tax revenue.
Sen. Steve Fischmann has introduced a bill that would remedy the situation. SB 576 would allow the TIDDs to only collect future state tax revenue that comes from new economic activity.
We realize that TIDDs are a complex issue, but explaining it in detail here would take more space than the typical action alert. You can read more about our stand on TIDDs on our FAQ sheet, which you can download here (pdf). You can also read Sen. Fischmann's bill here (pdf).
Action Needed: SB 576 is scheduled to be heard – along with a group of other TIDD-related bills – this afternoon in the Senate Finance Committee. We need you to contact senators in the SFC this morning and urge them to support SB 576.
What You Might Say: Please support Sen. Fischmann's bill to limit a TIDD's future tax revenue to only revenue from economic activity that is new to the state. SB 576 will safeguard our state general fund, ensuring it will be able to sustain the statewide programs that are critical to our children and working families.
Contact Info: You may call the Capitol switchboard at 505-986-4300 and ask to speak to one of the following senators: Sen. John Arthur Smith, Sen. Carlos Cisneros, Sen. Rod Adair, Sen. Pete Campos, Sen. Caroll Leavell, Sen. Howie Morales, Sen. Steven Neville, Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, Sen. Mary Kay Papen, Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, or Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort.
You can also visit this link for direct contact info. To find out who represents you in the Senate, select 'Find Your Legislator' from the menu under 'Members' on the left-hand side of the home page.
Note: Other TIDD bills scheduled to be heard this afternoon in the Senate Finance Committee include:
- SB 249 TAX INCREMENT DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS (LOPEZ): Bond authorization for SunCal ($408 million)
- SB 467 WINROCK TAX INCREMENT DEVELOPMENT PROJECT (ORTIZ y PINO)
- C/SB 19 LAS CRUCES DOWNTOWN TAX INCREMENT DEVELOPMENT (PAPEN): Bond authorization for the already-established Las Cruces TIDD ($8 million)
- TIDD reform bill: SB 201 TAX & REV TAX INCREMENT CHANGES (SANCHEZ B.)
Monday, February 09, 2009
Tell County Commissioners Your Thoughts on Development in Santa Fe County
From the New Mexico Environmental Law Center: The Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners (BCC) at their meeting on Tuesday, February 10th, will vote on the Interim Development Ordinance (IDO) proposed for Santa Fe County to establish a moratorium on new development for six months, with a six month extension option.
This moratorium is critical in order to allow communities the opportunity for input on an updated Santa Fe County General Plan. The General Plan update "will address affordable housing, economic development, sustainable development, alternative energy, natural and cultural resource protection, public facilities and services."
PLEASE ATTEND and LEND YOUR SUPPORT: The Meeting starts at 3:00 PM on Tuesday, February 10th; however, we were told by County Staff that the IDO matter would come up around 6:00 PM:
102 Grant Ave
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2061
Meeting Agenda. Please note Agenda Item X.B. - a Resolution To Support an Act Recognizing the Inherent Authority of Municipalities and Counties To Regulate Oil and Gas Operations within their Jurisdictions
The Plan and The Galisteo Basin Oil & Gas Ordinance: This Plan is the broader framework for the Galisteo Basin Oil and Gas Ordinance, and essentially becomes the "constitution" for all future development activities:
Please Participate! Public input meetings are scheduled near you. See below for schedule or visit the project calendar. For more information, contact Robert Griego at (505) 986-6215, or visit the County website.
NOTE: El Norte meetings occurred last week.
El Centro Charrette
February 9-12, 2009
Santa Fe Community College Jemez Room
6401 Richards Avenue
Public Kick-Off Meeting
Monday, February 9; 6:00-8:00 PM
Public Open House
Tuesday, February 10; 9:00am-8:00 PM
Public Community Workshop
Wednesday, February 11; 6:00-8:00 PM
February 23-26, 2009
Galisteo Community Center
35 Avenida Vieja
Public Kick-Off Meeting
Monday, February 23; 6:00-8:00 PM
Public Open House
Tuesday, February 24; 9:00am-8:00 PM
Public Community Workshop
Wednesday, February 25; 6:00-8:00 PM
Estancia GMA Charrette
March 2-5, 2009
Edgewood Senior Center
Public Kick-Off Meeting
Monday, March 2; 6:00-8:00 PM
Public Open House
Tuesday, March 3; 9:00am-8:00 PM
Public Community Workshop
Wednesday, March 4; 6:00-8:00 PM
It is important for all citizens of Santa Fe County to participate in this General Plan Update process which is already underway. Please forward to friends and neighbors!
The New Mexico Environmental Law Center: firstname.lastname@example.org