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By Paul J. Gessing
After eight years of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez in office, what is her legacy? She was the first Latina governor in America soon to be followed by Michelle Lujan-Grisham who will be the 2nd Latina to hold that position. By itself, this is an important legacy for Martinez, but what about her policies and their impact on New Mexico?
At the Rio Grande Foundation we look at issues from an economic perspective and we make no bones about being fiscally-conservative. Unfortunately, the first Martinez legacy is Medicaid expansion. The program which will cost New Mexico taxpayers $1 billion next year was expanded by President Obama as the core element of his “ObamaCare” program. States were given the choice over whether or not to accept this “free” money for what will turn into a costly entitlement expansion for the states as they are called upon to pick up more of the program’s costs.
By New Mexico District 38 Rep. Rebecca Dow
Think back to the time you were in your elementary school lunch room. Do you remember there was always someone who wanted you to trade away your dessert? You didn’t fall for a bad trade back then, we shouldn’t fall for it now.
Anyone who attends a public school or college in New Mexico is the beneficiary of the oil and gas industry. As the 2019 Legislative Session approaches it’s up to all of us to ensure critical education funding keeps flowing to our classrooms without needless regulations on one end and unfunded mandates on the other.
By Richard Aguino, Veteran and Former AARP Staff Member
As a veteran and an advocate for those on tribal lands, as well as an advocate for the elderly, I have seen firsthand the need for public transit across rural New Mexico. Personally, I have relied upon public transit for years, to get me to and from work, to get me to different communities, and to get me to medical appointments at the VA.
During my time advocating for improved transit and utilizing transit, I have been afforded the opportunity to cross paths with many just like myself and to hear their stories. Whether people are riding public transit due to financial need, a lack of a driver’s license, a medical condition, or some other need, people rely on transit because it is affordable, convenient and reliable.
In the veteran community, this is incredibly important. While there are smaller clinics in surrounding communities, specialists and doctors for the VA are in Albuquerque, making it difficult for many veterans to access care without the use of public transit. Public transit not only provides access to medical care, but it also provides veterans the opportunity to get around with freedom and independence. Further, with door-to-door service offered by certain transit systems, veterans have expanded options for accessing the care they need. These transit systems are much more affordable than using a vehicle, and in some cases are free.
This is imperative in rural areas of our state, including tribal land. I have been pleased to see the expanded routes and connections, providing far more options than were formerly available, and it is my hope to see the future of transit expand even more to provide convenient access to public transit for all in tribal and rural areas.
Public transit serves entire communities in many ways; yet, it is easy for some to overlook the benefits of transit, as it may not be a part of their daily routine. However, for the veterans, the elderly population, and those with financial need, transit provides freedom and creates opportunity.
Many in our communities rely upon public transit, and it is not simply an option—it is their only option for transportation.
By: Marlene C. Baca, CEO of New Mexico Health Connections
As we near the end of the year, we naturally begin planning for 2019. When you make resolutions for better financial and physical health at the start of the new year, health insurance may not be at the top of your list. However, adequate health coverage will have a dramatic impact on both your financial and your overall health and well-being.
But the time for you to take action is not January 1 – the time is now. Open Enrollment for individual health coverage began on November 15 and ends at midnight on December 15, 2018 for coverage that begins January 1, 2019.
If you think you cannot afford health insurance, consider what might happen if you don’t have it. Insurance protects your financial and physical health. It offers you peace of mind that if something goes wrong, you and your family will be covered. No one plans to get sick or hurt, but health problems can come up very unexpectedly. Whether it’s a broken bone, appendicitis, a sports injury, a car accident, or a serious health diagnosis, you and your family could be stuck with staggering medical costs if you do not have adequate coverage.
By Cisco McSorley, NM State Senator
The Albuquerque Journal reported on September 17 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warnings to 22 New Mexico businesses and fined one of them this past summer for selling electronic cigarettes to minors. It is of course illegal to sell e-cigarettes and tobacco to people younger than 18. Since the perpetrators include some of the nation’s largest mainstream retailers and convenience stores, including Walmart, Walgreen’s and 7-Eleven, itshould illustrate to policy makers and citizens alike why tough, urgent action is needed at the state and local level.
Earlier the federal FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated that e-cigarette use, or ‘vaping’, among teenagers nationally now has reached “an epidemic proportion”. New Mexico’s youth are no exception. He subsequently announced new, sweeping government enforcement to halt sales to minors, targeting both manufacturers and retailers. Commissioner Gottlieb listened to public health advocates, parents and teachers, and is to be commended for his bold decision - but much more help is needed.
E-cigarette devices heat liquid - frequently infused with nicotine - into an inhalable vapor. They are sold in over 7,000 sugary flavors targeted to kids, like mango, cherry, strawberry and cotton candy. New high-tech, high-nicotine vaping products like Juuls and Blu are addicting a whole new generation of young people, putting them at risk for even more dangerous smoking tobacco use that would reverse decades of progress. More than 30 percent of teens who use electronic cigarettes go on to smoke traditional tobacco within six months of beginning the use the electronic versions.
The Rio Grande Foundation is a non-partisan organization, but like so many other New Mexicans we followed the recent election closely and were surprised by the “blue tsunami” that hit our State.
As a policy-driven organization, we look forward, not back. That said, the utter devastation of the GOP and most fiscally-conservative candidates on Election Day will make the 2019 Legislature and beyond quite interesting. We have a number of questions that we don’t know the answers to, but we hope will frame the policy discussion as we move forward:
I counted on you. You can count on me
As the dust settles from the midterm elections and we assess where we are as a country, I find myself being very grateful to live in New Mexico’s House District 38.
In a year when many political races became acrimonious and bitter, the voters of Grant, Hidalgo and Sierra Counties elevated the political dialog in their communities. Every person I met on the campaign trail asked thoughtful questions about ways we can improve life in New Mexico, and they carefully evaluated the answers that were presented to them.
By: Mary McGinnis, Counselor & Poet
Having been blind from birth, public transit is a vital part of my daily life. I’ve lived in Santa Fe since 1982, and have been a regular transit rider since paratransit services began in the early 1990s.
Due to my blindness, I have some difficulty with spatial concepts and did not start to receive mobility training until the age of 18. Prior to the availability of transit, I relied on my partner to get to and from work. This severely limited my freedom and my independence.
Because of this, I was one of the initial advocates for both a bus system and paratransit system in Santa Fe. Since the successful accomplishment of our goals, I have been a rider on Santa Fe Trails and Santa Fe Ride on almost a daily basis. For me and others like me, transit is not simply another service; it is the service that affords us basic freedoms and the ability to get where we want or need to go without having to rely heavily upon friends and family members—most of whom have their own busy schedules.
Mary Alice tried out a different format for reporting the lengthy County Commission preliminary budget hearing. Instead of traditional narrative sentences, to do it more quickly and efficiently, she put the name of each speaker before a paraphrased version of their comments. Questions were not necessarily asked by the speaker, but they were answered by the one replying. Please let email@example.com know if you love, hate or are indifferent about the format. It may lead to how some reports are written henceforth in order to get them out in a more timely manner.
Mary Alice is back, but on slow-mo, trying to catch up with all that didn't get done before she had to leave. And doing everything that happened after she got back! Working on it
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