Monday, October 05, 2009

New Energy Economy Invites You to Vision Shift! Art in the Age of Climate Change

From New Energy Economy:
We cordially invite you to attend Vision Shift! Art in the Age of Climate Change. Vision Shift! is the product of a collection of organizations including New Energy Economy, Center for Contemporary Arts, McCune Charitable Foundation, New Cycle Foundation, Santa Fe Art Institute, Earth Care (Youth Allies Organizing Program), Earthworks Institute, Fine Arts for Children and Teens (FACT), Santa Fe Place, Warehouse 21, The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, and the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA).

Vision Shift! Art in the Age of Climate Change will raise awareness around climate change and affect public policy while creating meaningful social change.

Santa Fe Mayor David Coss recently signed a proclamation declaring a Vision Shift! Art in the Age of Climate Change week. Vision Shift! opens October 8, 2009 at six venues in Santa Fe with more than 100 works and runs through November 30, 2009. We hope you will join us!

See below the fold for upcoming VISION SHIFT! EVENTS:

Thursday, October 8:

5-7 PM Kick Off Event, Santa Fe Place, 4250 Cerrillos Road. Santa Fe Mayor David Coss reads Vision Shift! Proclamation, music with DJ Anjali, and unveiling of the mural done by Bryan Dixon (Diné) working with Earthworks. Bryan's father worked underground in the coal mines in Farmington and knows all too well the negative impacts to his community from the reliance on fossil fuels. Info: 505-469-4060.

5:45 PM Littleglobe's Common Ground - Santa Fe Performance, Santa Fe Place, 4250 Cerrillos Road. Littleglobe's artistic director Molly Sturges and members of Littleglobe's arts and activism ensemble Common Ground - Santa Fe will lead a short interactive performance exploring our shared post-fossil-fuel future and the evolving collective mythologies that can get us there. Visit Info: 505-989-1437.

Friday, October 9:

5-7 PM Mapping a Green Future Opening, Center for Contemporary Arts, 1050 Old Pecos Trail. Curated by Lea Rekow. Mapping a Green Future is an exhibition that looks toward the promise of sustainability and the challenges we currently face. The connection between the automobile, life and air is explored through Andrea Polli and Chuck Varga's Cloud Car. Polli's weather station, Hello, Weather! attempts to de-mystify the collection and use of weather and climate. Bill Gilbert documents walking the grid, as topography and legalities allow. Jenny Polak negotiates border politics through a sound installation made from conversations with immigrant workers. Joan Myers' panoramic photography of power plants deals with industrialization's impact on the environment. CCA Info: 505-982-1338.

6 PM Director of New Enery Economy, John Fogarty Lecture - Building Local Economies and Solving Global Warming: Santa Fe is Ready to Lead, Center for Contemporary Arts, 1050 Old Pecos Trail. Opening John Fogarty's lecture, Littleglobe's arts and activism ensemble, Common Ground - Santa Fe, will do a short music and spoken worrd performance with guests J.A. Deane and Joel Glanzberg. Led by Littleglobe's artistic director, Molly Sturges, performers include ensemble members Jaime Figueroa, Brent Herrera, London Wilder, Audreyann Martinez, Acushla Bastible, Elisa Keir, and Adelma Hnasko.

5-7 PM Scout's Honour and Badland Exhibition Openings, The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, 108 Cathedral Place. Scout's Honour is an exhibition which explores, among many things, environmental issues and relationship to land. Badland is an exhibit that is part of the statewide Land Art project and deals with environmental issues. Info: 505-983-8900.

Oct. 5 - Oct. 30:

Post-Fossil-Fuel Art Exhibition, Santa Fe Art Institute, 1600 St. Michaels Dr. This unjuried exhibition explores artists' visions for a post fossil-fuel world. Info:

Saturday, October 10:

5-7 PM FACT and Warehouse 21 Art Opening, Warehouse 21, 1614 Paseo de Peralta. Artwork from the Vision Shift FACT printmaking workshop goes on display at Warehouse 21 in the W21 Flying Cow Gallery. Info: 505-989-4223 x1 or

7:00 PM Spoken Word Performance, Award-winning slam poet Nolan Eskeets performs spoken word at W21.

7:10 PM Ed Mazria Lecture, Warehouse 21. Is it possible to achieve energy independence, solve climate change and revitalize the United States' economy with a single solution? According to Ed Mazria, Founder and Executive Director of Architecture 2030, it is. Mazria will deliver an eye-opening presentation of current climatic, energy and economic events, illustrating the magnitude of the challenges and opportunities confronting us today. Info for all Warehouse 21 events: 505-989-4223x1;

Friday, October 16:

10 AM-2 PM Live Feed from Bioneers, Center for Contemporary Arts, 1050 Old Pecos Trail. A repeat will be shown from 3 to 7 PM.

Saturday, October 17:

10 AM-2 PM Live Feed from Bioneers, Center for Contemporary Arts, 1050 Old Pecos Trail. A repeat will be shown from 3 to 7 PM.

Sunday, October 18:

10 AM-2 PM Live Feed from Bioneers, Center for Contemporary Arts, 1050 Old Pecos Trail. A repeat will be shown from 3 to 7 PM. CCA Info: 505-982-1338.

Saturday, October 24:

2-4 PM International Day of Climate Action. In observation of the International Day of Climate Action, Earth Care's Youth Allies Organizers will host an action to raise awareness about climate change and demand movement by political leaders to cap carbon emissions and reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere below 350 parts per million. The action will include a critical mass bike ride, march, and mass bus ride from CCA to the Roundhouse to leave a powerful message (both literal and figurative) for our leaders. Contact:, (505) 699-1025.

Saturday, November 7:

12 PM The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts Members' Lunch, 108 Cathedral Place. Luncheon at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts with Scout's Honor talk by exhibit curator Ryan Rice. Info: 505-983-8900.

October 1 - November 30:

Art-in-Transit, Santa Fe Buses. Art relating to climate change by Charles Strong will be displayed in the Santa Fe City Buses.

For more information, visit the websites of New Energy Economy and Vision Shift!.

October 5, 2009 at 10:41 AM in Art, Children and Families, Climate, Energy, Environment, Events, Green Economy, Music, Native Americans, Santa Fe Politics, Transportation, Youth | Permalink | Comments (0)

Guest Blog by Rep. Brian Egolf: Time for Fairness and Sanity in our Tax Code

BrianEgolf2 This is a guest blog by State Representative Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe).

Prepare to be shocked: Did you know that in New Mexico a family of four with taxable income of just $16,001 pays the same personal income tax rate as a family making $100,000, $250,000 or even $1 million? Under our state’s tax structure, the highest tax rate kicks in at $16,001. This means that a family of four living at or near the federal poverty level pays income tax at the highest New Mexico rate! This must change, for reasons of both fairness and fiscal soundness.

In New Mexico, our tax system is extremely regressive, which means that it requires low income earners to pay a higher percentage of their disposable income than high income earners. The effect of a regressive system is that low income earners feel the pinch of a tax bill far more than high income earners, and low income earners have far less money available for savings as a percentage of their income. Our federal taxes are just the opposite; they are progressive and ours should be too. With a progressive structure, you pay more only when you earn at a higher level. This is far fairer.

Because of our current dire budgetary predicament, we are facing a tax fairness train wreck: tax payers who saw the least benefit from our 2003 tax cuts are now facing the reality that they will feel the greatest impact from our spending cuts. Even though the great majority of the 2003 tax cuts went to high income earners, the largest impact of budget cuts will be felt by low income earners. For example, under the 2003 tax cuts, those making $295,000 or more pay $13,000 less every year in income taxes. The average New Mexican – earning between $30,000 and $45,000 – sees a savings of just $38 a year. The 40 percent of New Mexicans earning under $29,000 see no change at all in their tax bills. Yet, it is the people earning the lowest incomes that will feel the impact of spending cuts the most because they are the ones most likely to need the essential services that are being reduced or eliminated.

The 2003 tax cuts removed $450 million a year from our state’s revenues, which coincidentally, is about the amount of our current budget deficit. This budget gap has already led to funding cuts in education, health care, and public safety – all of which have a negative impact on the majority of New Mexicans. Even if you’re not directly impacted – you didn’t lose your job, you don’t rely on state-provided health care, and you don’t have children in public schools – you are indirectly impacted. When the state cuts spending, people lose jobs. The businesses and nonprofit organizations that have contracts with the state, for everything from supplying copy paper to giving kids immunizations, must cut back on their spending and hiring as well. Those who have lost their jobs most certainly cut back on their spending. All of this disruption in commerce digs us into a deeper hole, dragging the recession on longer.

Cuts to health care are felt the most – and not just by those who rely on Medicaid to keep their kids well and their elders in a nursing home. The higher our percentage of uninsured people, the higher the costs for those who do have health insurance. As health insurance costs continue to rise, more people lose their coverage, which raises the costs for everyone else.

No matter how the state collects income and gross receipts taxes, two issues are clear: enough revenue needs to be raised to pay for state services and programs, and the tax burdens and benefits need to be fairly shared. Our state must seize the opportunity presented by the current crisis to rebalance the tax burden by aligning our tax brackets along the lines of those at the federal level. At the same time, we must roll back a portion of the 2003 tax cuts to provide the revenue we need to continue to provide the essential services on which so many New Mexicans rely every day. Doing so now – in the special session only a few weeks away – will bring new fairness to our tax system while also bringing long-term fiscal responsibility to our budget.

When the state was flush with funds, the highest earning New Mexicans got the biggest benefit. Now times are tough, and those who got no benefit will suffer the consequences the most. That is unfair by any standard, and I will work to tip the scales back in favor of those who are long overdue for a fair shake from their state government.

This is a guest blog by State Representative Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe). 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.

To see a collection of guest blogs published on the DFNM blog, visit our archives.

October 5, 2009 at 12:10 AM in Children and Families, Economy, Populism, Guest Blogger, NM Legislature Special Session 2009, Taxes | Permalink | Comments (8)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Friday 10/9: Join Groups in Rally Against Education Cuts in Santa Fe

An October 9 Santa Fe rally, march and demonstration to stop New Mexico's lawmakers from cutting education and state government services again has been endorsed by a long list of labor, social services, health care and education groups, as well as the Catholic Church of New Mexico (see below the fold).

If you support the state finding less damaging ways to balance the budget than cutting education and essential services that serve ordinary New Mexicans -- you're urged to participate in the following events:

Friday, October 9, 2009

12 Noon:
Meet-Up & Rally, Santa Fe Rail Runner Depot
410 S. Guadalupe Street
Sack lunch, water, t-shirts for first 2,000
Parking: Manhattan St. Garage & lot @ 500 Market Street

12:30 PM:
March five blocks to Roundhouse

1-3:45 PM:
Roundhouse Demonstration & Media Events
Invited speakers include filmaker Michael Moore
& symbolic activities supporting these Better Choices:

  • Roll back tax cuts for richest New Mexicans (those earning $295,000 or more)

  • Close tax loopholes for out-of-state corporations (Wal Mart, Target, Starbucks)

  • Restore preK-12 student value cuts (passed by lawmakers in January 2009)

  • Restore higher education cuts (passed by lawmakers in January 2009)

  • Restore public services cuts (passed by lawmakers in January 2009)

  • Stop more cuts: recommended by Gang of 12 lawmakers for passage in October's special session - see list of proposed cuts (pdf)

October 9 participants are encouraged to wear blue and carpool. More information:

Endorsing organizations:

  • ABQ Teachers Federation
  • Better Choices New Mexico Alliance
  • American Federation of Teachers - New Mexico
  • New Mexico Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
  • New Mexico Building Trades Council
  • Northern Federation of Educational Employees (Northern New Mexico College, Espanola)
  • Rio Rancho School Employees Federation
  • ABQ Educational Assistants Association
  • International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes
  • Cibola County Federation of United School Employees
  • Central New Mexico (TVI) Employees Union
  • Taos Federation of United School Employees
  • Cuba School School Employees
  • Penasco School Employees
  • Jemez Mountain School Employees
  • Zuni Federation of United School Employees
  • Santa Fe School Employees Federation
  • ABQ Secretaries and Clerks Association
  • National Education Association - New Mexico
  • McKinley County Federation of United School Employees
  • NM Alliance for Retired Americans
  • New Mexico Labor United
  • Catholic Church of New Mexico

October 2, 2009 at 01:12 PM in Business, Children and Families, Corporatism, Economy, Populism, Education, Events, Government, Healthcare, Jobs, Labor, Local Politics, NM Legislature Special Session 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Race and Politics Not Just a Washington Issue?

Pic.phpHere's a timely story from Eric Mack at Public News Service-NM that features Robby Rodriguez (right), Director of the Southwest Organizing Project, weighing in on the role that race may be playing in New Mexico's ongoing dialogue on ways to balance the state's budget. You can read the report below or listen to here:

The debate over the role of race in American politics continues to simmer in the wake of the resignation of the nation's African-American green jobs czar and comments by former President Jimmy Carter accusing some Obama critics of racism. In New Mexico, community organizers say issues of race in public policy are just as present in Santa Fe as they are in Washington, DC

Robby Rodriguez with the Southwest Organizing Project says the upcoming budget battle is a perfect example, with state lawmakers looking at cuts to social services like Medicaid and public education.

"That would be very bad because already we have an extremely high drop-out rate in New Mexico, which is disproportionately affecting native and Latino students."

Although President Obama has tried to downplay the role of race in the debate over health care, the economy and other issues, Rodriguez says he thinks it's an important part of the conversation.

"If we're not diligent about viewing the potential racial impacts of our decisions, we are definitely going to increase the amount of racial disparity that exists within our state."

Cuts to Medicaid would have a major impact on communities of color, Rodriguez contends, adding that the notion of state cuts to Medicaid should be examined for possible racial implications.

"We really need to look at whether or not those cuts are going to further broaden the racial gap between those who are healthy in this state and those who are unhealthy in this state."

He suggests that lawmakers raise revenue and reduce racial disparities by rolling back tax cuts for wealthy New Mexicans. Gov. Richardson has said he opposes that idea, however, claiming the cuts have been an engine of economic development.

September 28, 2009 at 12:34 PM in Children and Families, Economy, Populism, Education, Gov. Bill Richardson, Healthcare, Minority Issues, NM Legislature Special Session 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Saturday: Join Lt. Gov. Denish at Fenton Lake to Celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day

Lt. Governor Diane Denish will be joining with New Mexico families and the State Department of Game and Fish to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day at Fenton Lake State Park on Saturday, September 26, with activities for everyone in the family.

“I’m looking forward to enjoying a beautiful fall day at Fenton Lake and I encourage New Mexico families to join me. Bring your children and spend a day enjoying our state’s sunshine and fresh air. There will be programs to teach children about fish and wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities here in the land of enchantment,” Denish said in a statement released about the event.

“I plan to do a little fishing and I may try by hand at archery and air rifle shooting. I am also looking forward to sampling the cooking of Dan Brooks, our very own ‘Cast Iron Ranger’.”

License-free fishing, archery and air rifle shooting are among activities scheduled Saturday at Fenton Lake State Park as the Department of Game and Fish and New Mexico State Parks celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day with a day of family fun.

National Hunting and Fishing Day also is a free fishing day in New Mexico, a special day when all anglers -- residents and nonresidents of all ages -- can fish without a license at public waters statewide. All other fishing rules apply.

Activities at Fenton Lake will be from 9 AM to 4 PM and will include free archery and air rifle shooting, fishing instruction, fly tying, aquatics education and more. Participants will be eligible for hourly drawings for fishing rod-and-reel combination sets and compound bows. The state park charges a $5 per vehicle day-use fee.

Fenton Lake State Park is 33 miles northwest of San Ysidro via NM 4 and NM 126 in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico. The area is owned by the State Game Commission and managed by New Mexico State Parks.

For more information about National Hunting and Fishing Day activities at Fenton Lake, please call (505) 231-4375.

September 25, 2009 at 01:22 PM in Children and Families, Events, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, Recreation/Open Space, Youth | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Call to Action: Attend LFC Meeting on NM Budget on September 28 at State Capitol

BetterchoicesFrom Better Choices New Mexico:
Throughout the last several weeks we have done much to begin educating fellow New Mexicans, the media, and policy-makers about the dangers of additional budget cuts. However, this effort has only just begun and there is a great deal more to do. The Legislative Finance Committee is meeting on September 28, 2009 at the state Capitol in room 307. Beginning at 8:30 AM, the committee will discuss proposals to restore FY 10 solvency.

This meeting is a perfect opportunity to make our physical presence known. We are asking that you bring your family, friends, and co-workers to this meeting. The purpose of your attendance is to fill the room with New Mexicans who support a balanced and sustainable approach to addressing New Mexico’s budgetary needs. While there will not be folks with megaphones, or even an opportunity for public testimony, our silent presence will be deafening. BCNM organizing staff will have Better Choices stickers for easy identification by LFC members and staff.

Your support at this event WILL make a difference. Please RSVP your attendance to or contact Stephanie Maez-Gibson at (505) 410-0251 should you have additional questions.

Better Choices New Mexico supports a balanced approach to addressing New Mexico’s budgetary challenges. This alliance of small businesses, faith-based groups, working families, and nonprofit organizations believes cutting critical services and programs would be a terrible mistake. Instead, the Legislature needs to open the books on tax expenditures, close the loopholes for out-of-state corporations, and rollback the tax breaks for the wealthy.

DFNM Note: See our earlier post on Better Choices New Mexico to learn more about the group and its positions.

September 19, 2009 at 11:39 AM in Children and Families, Events, Healthcare, Jobs, Local Politics, NM Legislature Special Session 2009, Poverty, Santa Fe Politics, Women's Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Action Alert: The Bleeding of Medicaid in New Mexico

From New Mexico Voices for Children:
As you may know, the state's Medicaid program is facing deficits that may be as high as $300 million by the end of next year. The Legislature is considering massive cost containment measures as a remedy, including: cutting entire programs such as State Coverage Insurance for adults (SCI), personal care, and prescription medications; cutting services such as dental and vision benefits for adults, hospice services, and nursing services in school; as well as scaling back enrollment.

Medicaid is the single largest insurer of children in New Mexico, and provides health care to one-quarter of all New Mexicans. Because it draws down a 4-to-1 match in federal dollars, it's also a major economic engine for the state. Significant cuts would be disastrous in more ways than one.

The only way to stop the bleeding is to pressure the Legislature.

How You Can Help
Tomorrow, the Legislative Health and Human Services committee (LHHS) is meeting to discuss Medicaid cost containment, and public comments will be allowed. Please come and give specific examples about how cutting Medicaid will harm you or your family.

The LHHS meeting is Wednesday, Sept. 16, at Santa Ana Star Center, 3001 Civic Center, in Rio Rancho. The committee will take public comment from 3:30 to 5 PM. Click for more information on the agenda (pdf).

September 15, 2009 at 12:22 PM in Children and Families, Economy, Populism, Events, Healthcare, Local Politics, NM Legislature Special Session 2009, Poverty, Women's Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Democratic Party of New Mexico Elects Javier Gonzales as Chair, Unanimously Passes Resolution for Strong Public Option (Photos, Video)

Click for larger version of slide show with captions or album

The State Central Committee of the Democratic Party of New Mexico held its Fall meeting yesterday at Isleta Casino and Resort at Isleta Pueblo. After being cordially welcomed by Isleta Pueblo Governor Robert Benevidez, the first order of official business was to elect a new Chair to replace Brian Colón, who resigned on August 8th to run for Lt. Governor. Javier Gonzales of Santa Fe was elected by acclamation, with no opposition, and will serve the remainder of Colón's term that expires in April of 2011. Brian got a huge outpouring of thanks from the crowd for his work over the past three years -- and the victories we all enjoyed in 2008.

JavierGonzales2Crop JavierGonzales3Crop
New DPNM Chairman Javier Gonzales

Gonzales Family

JavierGonzales4_500 JavierGonzales5_500
Chairman Javier Gonzales at podium

Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish thanked Vice Chair Annadelle Sanchez for a job well done in serving as Party Chair during the transition, and then proceeded to formally nominate Javier for the post.

Denish talks about Dems vs. GOP, nominates Gonzales

"It is my honor to place the name of Javier Gonzales into nomination. He has been a Democrat through and through - from his family roots to his service today. I would like to thank Javier for his willingness to serve and I look forward to celebrating with him in November 2010," said Denish. Gonzales' nomination was seconded by Bernalillo County Vice Chair Victor Raigoza.

DianeDenish2Cr VictorRaigozaCr
Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, DPBC Vice Chair Victor Raigoza

Addressing the crowd, Javier Gonzales said, "It is in the name of my father George Gonzales, and his belief in a brighter future, that I stand before you seeking the privilege to become Chairman of the people's party, the Democratic party of the Great State of New Mexico."

Click for a complete transript (pdf) of Javier's speech.

Gonzales talks about education, equality for all

Gonzales gave a powerhouse speech that emphasized traditional Democratic values and how they're more important than ever in a time when change agents and forces working for the status quo are locked in a sometimes brutal battle. He spoke of his strong support for improving education, fighting off attempts to cut education funding and ensuring that every American has access to affordable health care -- with a public option to help hold down costs.

Javier on health care reform, Ted Sen. Kennedy, public option

Equality for ALL
Gonzales forcefully explained that he believes equality for all is a core Democratic value, and brought down the house when he said, "As Democrats we fight for the day when the right to marry the person of one's choice is a fundamental right regardless of sexual orientation."

Gonzales on Justice Sotomayor, equal pay, the fundamental right of marriage equality

"I commit to you today, as your Party Chair, that I will fight for you and the principles and ideals of our Democratic Party. You believe what I believe, we are right on all the issues and when we have Democrats in office, the people of this nation and this state have people fighting for them and against the status quo. We are a Party of progress and not stifled. We are the party of labor, education, environment, civil rights and working families," he continued.

Clearly, Gonzales is taking the reins of a State Democratic Party that's united in its values and thirsting for the kind of progressive change that Democrats have historically achieved. He seems incredibly proud to BE a real Democrat, and excited about leading the Party into the 2010 election cycle with confidence, a yen for teamwork and an intense focus.

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan talks about health care reform

Other Speakers
Earlier, the crowd of several hundred heard from a number of elected Dems. A passionate speech by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03) addressed the need to reform health care this year, now. Rep. Lujan emphasized that the battle is still heating up in DC, and asked Dems to keep up the calls and letters in support of Obama's reform intiative. He urged Democrats to arm themselves with the facts and continue talking to neighbors, family members and colleagues to make sure they know what's true about the reform initiative -- and what's not. Rep. Lujan also made quite a case for the public option and pledged to continue his strong advocacy for the provision. 

State Auditor Hector Balderas called for strong ethics reform measures and explained why he believes the role of the office needs to be valued, and expanded. Secretary of State Mary Herrera was happy to report she had accomplished all of the personal goals she had set for herself when she was elected to her first term and is ready for another.

The SCC passed -- unanimously -- a resolution that originated in the Democratic Party of Santa Fe County in support of a strong public option in any health care reform bill. The Dems of New Mexico are speaking with one voice in terms of what real reform entails.

Two other resolutions for changes proposed by the Rules Committee, to discontinue the use of proxy voting at conventions on the county and state levels, were both defeated.

LG Candidates Abound
Candidates for Lt. Governor were out in force mingling with the crowd and/or speaking to SCC members at tables around the meeting space. LG candidates in attendance included former DPNM Chair Brian Colón, Sen. Linda Lopez, Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, Santa Fe Sheriff Greg Solano, Lawrence Rael, who's Executive Director for the Mid-Region Council of Governments, and Rep. Jose Campos. The nonscientific observation of Mary Ellen was that most SCC members were wearing Brian Colon campaign stickers. She's usually spot on.

Click on photos for larger versions. All photos and videos by M.E. Broderick.

September 13, 2009 at 12:45 AM in 2010 NM Lt. Governor Race, Brian Colon, Children and Families, Civil Liberties, Democratic Party, Education, Events, GLBT Rights, Healthcare, Jobs, Linda Lopez, Local Politics, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, NM Congressional Delegation, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, Women's Issues | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

New Alliance Seeks Broader Input on New Mexico Budget Negotiations

Note: If you support the positions of Better Choices New Mexico -- and I certainly do -- please FAIR Blogcommunicate your views to Governor Bill Richardson.

Image002A group of small business organizations, faith leaders, labor, educators, lawmakers, and various advocacy groups, today announced the launch of a statewide alliance to address both the near-term financial challenge of the state's $433 million budgetary shortfall and the budget's long-term structural problem.

The alliance -- Better Choices New Mexico -- believes a problem of this magnitude cannot be solved behind closed doors with input from only handful of people. In an August 24 letter, several BCNM partners called for these legislative/executive working group negotiations to be open to the public -- in the spirit of the recent conference committee legislation passed last session. Unfortunately, these meetings remain private.

"It is disappointing that no one from the working group has responded to our request," said Ruth Hoffman, Director of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry.

"As small business people, working families, and concerned citizens, we have a right to be heard on an issue this important to all New Mexicans," said Vicki Pozzebon, Executive Director, Santa Fe Alliance.

A Fact Sheet a Day
The alliance will also launch its "20 Ways/20 Days" informational series tomorrow. Every day, for 20 days, the alliance will send out a fact sheet that highlights specific examples of how New Mexicans will be hurt by budget cuts. This campaign is part of a larger effort to inform the public of the urgent need to find a long-term solution to New Mexico's budgetary problems. If action is not taken to address this larger problem, New Mexico can expect to see significantly worse shortfalls than the one we are facing this fiscal year.

Download These Documents Now to Learn More
New Mexico is not alone in this budget crisis.  A document entitled, "In Good Company" (pdf) outlines ways other states are using a more balanced approach to addressing their budgetary challenges. Also check out this outline of proposed revenue generating options and additional information on the alliance.

Better Choices New Mexico consists of: AFSCME, AFT NM, Center for Civic Policy, Community Action New Mexico, Conservation Voters New Mexico, Health Action New Mexico, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry, NM Center on Law and Poverty, NM Coalition to End Homelessness, New Mexico Conference of Churches, New Mexico Voices for Children, Santa Fe Alliance, SWOP, and Economists from New Mexico universities.

Better Choices New Mexico supports a balanced approach to addressing New Mexico’s budgetary challenges. This alliance of small businesses, faith-based groups, working families, and nonprofit organizations believes cutting critical services and programs would be a terrible mistake. Instead, the Legislature needs to open the books on tax expenditures, close the loopholes for out-of-state corporations, and rollback the tax breaks for the wealthy.

September 9, 2009 at 11:43 AM in Business, Children and Families, Economy, Populism, Education, Gov. Bill Richardson, Healthcare, Labor, Local Politics, NM Legislature Special Session 2009, Poverty, Senior Citizens | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

NM Voices for Children: Congress Must Act Before New Mexicans Exhaust Jobless Benefits

From New Mexico Voices for Children: Our organization marked Labor Day by urging the state's congressional delegation to expand unemployment insurance before New Mexicans reach the end of their federally-funded jobless benefits. According to a report released by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), more than 1,500 New Mexicans are expected to collect their last unemployment check by the end of 2009 -- even as they struggle to find work and pay their bills in the midst of the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression.

"New Mexico's working families are counting on Congress to make this cause their top priority so they are not left out in the cold without a paycheck or unemployment check to pay their mortgages and other bills," said Gerry Bradley, Research Director of the child advocacy organization. "Without action to expand benefits, New Mexico will hit a severe setback on the road to recovery. These extensions not only help struggling families stay afloat -- they are a direct stimulus to the local economy, which will help with job creation." said Bradley.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), passed in February, provided crucial support to New Mexico's jobless workers. In the first six months after its passage (from February to July), federal aid to jobless workers generated almost $68 million in direct relief to New Mexico's families who were hardest hit by the recession. That includes almost $43 million in federally-funded extended benefits. In addition, the ARRA boosted unemployment checks by $25 a week, generating more than $25 million in hard cash to New Mexico workers to help cover basic necessities.

Advocates for working families have called on Congress to expand jobless benefits by 10 to 20 weeks (depending on the state’s unemployment rate), continue all the benefits provided unemployed families by the ARRA, and suspend the federal rule now requiring state and local governments to pay the full costs of the Extended Benefits program.

"The federal stimulus benefits have significantly blunted the effects of the downturn, and Congress needs to continue building on that success. The unemployment crisis has proved more dire than anyone anticipated six months ago," said Bradley. "We have the option of leaving thousands of workers with zero income, destabilizing local communities, and prolonging the downturn, or we have the option of extending benefits and injecting more stimulus at a crucial juncture of the recovery. The choice for our leaders in Congress is clear," he concluded.

NELP′s report is available online.

September 8, 2009 at 12:55 PM in Children and Families, Economy, Populism, Jobs, Labor, NM Congressional Delegation, Obama Administration, Poverty | Permalink | Comments (1)