2015 New Mexico Landscape Poll

The Center for Civic Action commissioned a statewide poll at the beginning of this year to get a reading on the current issue environment in New Mexico.

The results offer a snapshot of what New Mexicans were thinking in the immediate lead-up to the legislative session. Here are key takeaways:

Economic Insecurity

As a preliminary matter, it is important to note the results on voters’ perceptions of their incomes and the job climate in New Mexico. A majority (55%) say their incomes are falling behind the cost of living. Few (5%) believe their incomes are rising above the cost of living while a third (34%) say they are staying even. Of those who perceive their incomes falling, a majority (53%) feel state policy decisions play a major role.

On jobs, 70% say that New Mexico lags behind other states in job creation. The economy, jobs, and education top the list of voter concerns with no other issue even close.

Most Important Issues

Voters overwhelmingly care about two issues to the exclusion of all others – the economy and jobs (44% top two issue) along with schools and education (38% top two issue). These are the top issues of Hispanics and Anglos, voters of all age groups. Illegal immigration (15%), health care (9%), crime (8%), and taxes (4%) lag far behind.

Minimum Wage

A significant majority (76%) of voters believe that in three years, in 2017, New Mexico should have a higher minimum wage than it does today. Only a fringe 19% believe it should stay where it is. An even smaller share (1%) believe the state should cut the wage in the future. This represents a strong consensus, but not a surprising one, given the success of minimum wage ballot initiatives in place like Arkansas in November 2014.

When probed further about the exact higher wage they support, a majority (59%) favor a wage $10.00 per hour or higher. The remaining 41% support a wage lower than $10.00 per hour (20% between $9.00 and $9.99 and 17% lower than $9.00).

Investments versus Tax Cuts

Legislating comes down to choices, and voters overwhelmingly prefer “investing in key priorities like education, healthcare, and job creation” (62%) over “reducing taxes on businesses and individuals” (19%) when forced to pick. Just 15% volunteer both. Voters get that New Mexico needs investments in its people. When it comes to taxes, voters slightly prefer “targeting tax incentives to just small business in New Mexico” (41%) over “reducing taxes on all businesses in New Mexico” (32%). Voters simply do not have any appetite for broad based tax breaks this year, especially those that would go to the wealthy and big business.

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Where to vote in New Mexico

The early voting period ends on Saturday, November 1. Days and hours depending on specific counties and polling locations.

Election day is Tuesday, November 4. Polls open 7 am to 7 pm.

Bernalillo County:

Doña Ana County:

Santa Fe County:

Other New Mexico Counties

Pearce a roadblock to immigration reform

By Stephanie Maez (Guest Column, Las Cruces Sun News, Sept 7, 2014)

Many of us have been working for comprehensive immigration reform longer than most people have been with their current employer. We do this because we believe in the values that our country stands for, and because we know that immigration reform will in fact strengthen our nation.

We can all agree that the current patchwork of immigration policies and programs do not work. This broken system is one that politicians are unwilling to fix. The lack of will to resolve this issue is making the situation worse by the minute.

What are the facts of the current situation?

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Early Childhood Education: A Wussy Way to Kill a Bill (VIDEO)

Sarah Kennedy has some thoughts about Senator Carlos Cisneros and the role he played in killing the Early Childhood Education constitutional amendment during the legislative session. Watch the video, then scroll down for the back story to Sen. Cisneros’ act of legicide.

Cisneros’ motion “to temporarily table without prejudice” deserves further comment.

Two words suffice: laughably mendacious.

To table a bill means to kill it — especially with just three days left in the session.

Yes, there’s more to the story

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Corporate Tax Giveaway Update: Gov. Martinez’s budget wizard apologizes for misleading legislature

Back in mid-March during the closing minutes of the 2013 session, the New Mexico House passed a massive corporate tax cut package — with no floor debate and no questions permitted. And, in what most observers believe was an unprecedented breach of protocol, Department of Finance and Administration Secretary Tom Clifford was allowed to take the microphone on the House floor and speak. His budget wizardry was enlisted in a last-ditch attempt to calm the anxieties of legislators.

Why the heartburn? Well for one thing, hardly any of them had had a chance to read the so-called “compromise” bill that had sprung out of Finance Committee the night before. The House Taxation and Revenue hadn’t seen the bill — although it had previously rejected many of its key components earlier in the session. There were legitimate long-term concerns about fiscal impacts of such a far-reaching measure.

This was a bill that would slash the corporate tax rate and replace some of the lost state revenue by pushing the tax burden onto New Mexico counties and municipalities.

But never fear, they said! Tom Clifford is here.

And he won the day with his stand-up routine. The rules of the legislative process were stretched beyond the breaking point. Yet based on his confident assurances, the bill picked up enough Democrats to pass with time having expired on the clock.

Governor Martinez wasted no time in signing HB641 into law. Then her PR flacks kicked into overdrive, spinning the national news media with a tale of New Mexico’s bold Latina Republican governor whose consummate political skill brought an obstructionist Democratic legislature to its senses and got it to pass “her landmark tax reform.”  (Subtext: Don’t you know presidential timber when you see it!)

Out-of-state political fundraisers featuring the all-conquering Governor quickly ensued.

Well, the story doesn’t end there.

Yesterday, almost two months after that day of infamy in New Mexico legislative history, we got the rest of the story. From the Albuquerque Journal:

Apology given for tax bill information
By Dan Boyd on Wed, May 15, 2013

SANTA FE – The top budget official in Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration apologized to legislators Tuesday for claiming in March that a massive tax package would have a positive fiscal impact to the state during each of the next five years.

Finance and Administration Secretary Tom Clifford told members of an interim legislative committee Tuesday the information he provided on the House floor during the final hours of this year’s 60-day session was based on a different version of the bill.

“I apologize for that,” said Clifford, who testified on the tax package during the frantic final minutes of this year’s session.

In contrast to Clifford’s original claim, an estimate released after lawmakers approved the tax package calculates that the legislation will cost the state more than $70 million in forgone revenue in the 2017 fiscal year. It will provide the state with about $15 million in additional revenue during the next two budget years before the fiscal impact turns negative, according to the estimate, which does not factor in possible future economic development.

At least one Democratic lawmaker said Tuesday that he did not think the tax package would have been approved by the Legislature if Clifford had originally portrayed the budget hit as negative.

“If he would have told membership the truth, I don’t think they would have voted for it,” said Rep. Jim Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, who voted against the bill.

Read the rest of the story here… and weep.