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Debate enriches the legislative process

By NM District 38 Rep. Rebecca Dow

There is a deep divide between rural and urban New Mexico and changing the rules of debate will only make it worse.

Anyone who watched the last Legislative session would be forgiven for believing there were two different New Mexicos. Laws were passed, money was spent, and taxes were raised, all approved by those in the majority party and supported by the special interests, often benefitting those who live in the urban areas of the state.

Meanwhile, many New Mexicans who live outside of Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces watched and wondered how their voices could matter so little. The people in my rural southwest district continue to ask me how Santa Fe could be so tone-deaf to their needs.

By Paul J. Gessing

Gov. Lujan Grisham recently released her budget to be considered by the Legislature in the upcoming 30 day session. As expected, there is a lot of new spending thanks to the continued growth of oil and gas production in the Permian Basin.

After a 12 percent boost in General Fund spending last year, the Gov. is requesting yet another big increase. This year she’s asking for 8.4 percent.

According to news reports, the nearly $7.7 billion spending plan includes a proposed 4% salary increase for New Mexico teachers and more money for school districts with a large number of “at risk” students.

By Howard Hutchinson

January 1, 2020

On December 20, the Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt raised cheers from the ranks of the radical environmental community by denying a request for an extension to reach a Record of Decision to meet the deadline for the additional funding as defined by the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA).

The December 20 letter from the Office of the Secretary stated, “The slow pace of progress by the State since the passage of the Act shows a lack of urgency and priority by the State for delivering water supplies to rural communities that could be served by the project.”

At Governor Lujan Grisham’s Town Hall this week on education, voices were raised about the on-going deficiencies in state policies that keep New Mexico students at the bottom of the nation—but the real problem seems to be the NM solution of “just throwing more money at the problem”—which isn’t going to solve the real problem.

The real problem lies with American standards of education—and raising salaries or hiring more out-of-state teachers isn’t going to help the situation—because New Mexico has some of the most unique and valuable cultures in America.

By Regional Forester Calvin Joyner

Federal, state, tribal and private managers of forests and grasslands face a range of urgent challenges - degraded watersheds, invasive species, and epidemics of insects and disease. Longer fire seasons and the rising size and severity of wildfires are of concern, along with increasing risk to communities, firefighters and natural resources, notably our water supplies. Water is the lifeblood of the arid Southwest, one of the most important natural resources flowing from our national forests, which are the primary source of water for the communities in New Mexico.

The challenges transcend boundaries and impact people beyond the jurisdiction of any single agency or organization. Tackling these challenges requires us to work together to find new ways of doing business at a greater pace and scale for the greatest benefits to resources and people. Significant work has already been done with partners to implement projects across boundaries with integrated and long-term outcomes for restoration of our forests in New Mexico. Relationships have been built with tribes, land grants, communities and multiple partners through the forest planning process, supporting work on defining priorities together.

By Senator Pete Campos 

 At its core, this article is about water and its life-or-death importance here in the desert, but not in the typical sense. Much has been written and said about water being among our most precious resources, and with good reason. We need to administer it wisely. Watersheds, rivers, acequias and community ditches are all vital parts of our water systems, but dams are perhaps the most important pieces of water infrastructure, which is not talked about nearly enough. The critical nature of dams does not involve just the delivery of water so much as the storage of water.

 Under a best-case scenario, dams hold spring runoff water in lakes and reservoirs for delivery in drier summer months. Dams are a crucial component of the complex system by which the state administers water to users and meets its delivery obligations to other states. Lakes and reservoirs also provide some measure of recreational value through camping, boating and fishing.

By Paul Gessing

According to the latest estimates from Santa Fe, the State’s General Fund budget is expected to be $7.882 billion next fiscal year. When Gov. Martinez left office in 2018 the budget was “only” $6.3 billion. In two short years, New Mexico’s budget will have grown by more than $1.5 billion, a 25 percent increase.

With the current group in charge New Mexico government is going to grow fat on oil and gas revenues while average New Mexicans pay higher taxes due to hikes passed during 2019.

Friday, November 22nd, 2019 at 12:02am https://www.abqjournal.com/1394228/usmca-will-help-nms-agricultural-communities.html
It may seem odd to many that a state legislator who represents rural communities is penning an op-ed focused on international trade agreements. However, international trade plays a significant role in rural New Mexico. Conducted wisely, it can strengthen rural communities and create economic opportunity.

New Mexico agriculture, an export-oriented sector, is a multibillion-dollar industry – and, for rural communities across the state, a significant economic driver. According to a report written by New Mexico First, “in every region except the state’s Northwest and Metro regions, the total impact from agriculture ranks in the top five industry sectors.” However, increased access to international markets and modernized trade agreements will set the stage for continued growth in the agriculture sector.

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