Governor Martinez’s Vetoes Killed Jobs (VIDEO)

It’s true. Despite all of the “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” rhetoric spinning out of the Governor’s office, the fact is her vetoes are costing jobs in New Mexico’s small towns and rural communities.

We know. You won’t read about it in the Albuquerque Journal.

But facts (and stats) are stubborn things, and Sarah Kennedy’s got a slew of ’em. Watch.

Sarah’s Week: Bank Transfer Day in NM, Student Debt Crisis and more! (VIDEO)

Sarah Kennedy had quite a week all right. She catches us up on how Bank Transfer Day went down in New Mexico (It was a winner!) and does a bit on the crushing impact of student loan debt (Help is on the way!).

But most importantly, she answers the burning question, “What’s behind Sarah Kennedy anyway?”

New Study: Food hardship afflicts more than one in four NM households with children

By Matthew Reichbach

Nearly thirty percent of New Mexico households with children said there was a time over the last year where they could not afford food according to a report (pdf) by the Food Research and Action Center, or FRAC.

The study found that the 28.3 percent of households with children in New Mexico experienced food hardship. This ranked 12th out of 50 states and Washington D.C. from 2009-2010.

The food hardship rate was 28.2 percent for household with children in the Albuquerque Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Both numbers far outstripped the amount of households without children who said at some point from between 2009 and 2010 that they could not afford to feed their households.

The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty used the report as a reason to criticize the New Mexico Human Services Department for cuts to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs.

The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty wrote in a statement:

[The Human Services Department] has made a series of cuts to programs for low-income children and their families. HSD said the cuts were necessary because it did not have enough money. However, HSD recently admitted to the Legislative Finance Committee that it did not spend $10 million in funds it had available to pay for these programs in FY2011. Usually children participating in the TANF program receive $100 in August for school clothing. This year, when families are struggling more than ever to make ends meet, they are receiving half that amount. Over 30,000 children will be affected by the cut despite the fact that HSD has the $1.5 million needed to provide this help.

“The new data reaffirm what we’re seeing in our communities – that far too many people continue to struggle with hunger in these challenging economic times,” said Patricia Anders, a staff attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. “It demonstrates, as if any further evidence were needed, that this is not the time to make our safety net weaker.”

In May, New Mexico was one of four states and the District of Columbia that cut TANF funds according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

At the time, the CBPP said, “New Mexico cut TANF benefits by 15 percent effective January 1, 2011, reducing benefits for a family of three by $67 a month, from $447 to $380.”

“The food hardship rate in New Mexico for households with children is far too high, demonstrating a significant need for increasing family access to federal food assistance services,” said Meghann Dallin, manager of the New Mexico No Kid Hungry Campaign, a project of the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger, in a statement released today.

Washington D.C. had the highest rate of food hardship among households with children at 37.4 percent. North Dakota had the lowest percentage of food hardship among households with children at 15.3 percent.

New Mexico’s rate is not atypical among states in the region. Arizona came in at 29 percent, Texas at 27.9 percent, Oklahoma at 27.6 percent, Colorado at 23.4 percent and Utah at 23 percent.

Breaking down the food hardship numbers for households with children by congressional district shows the 1st CD scored the worst with 27.2 percent, followed by the 2nd CD at 25.5 percent. The 3rd Congressional District has the lowest rate at 24.6 percent. None rank among the top 100 in the national, though all are in the top half.

The report found that six of the 45 congressional districts with the worst rates were in Texas, two in Arizona and one in Okahoma.

ABQ rally calls for jobs, not cuts

By Matthew Reichbach

A rally of about 150 people in downtown Albuquerque called for the federal government to stop cutting services and instead focus on jobs. The rally, one of hundreds across the nation organized by the progressive organization MoveOn.Org, was given a shot in the arm by the recent debate in Congress over spending.

The event was a kickoff of sorts according to Greg Sandoval, a regional organizer for MoveOn.org and one of the organizers of the rally. A number of progressive organizations unveiled the “Contract for the American Dream” this week. The contract is “ten critical steps to get our economy back on track,” which includes investing in America’s infrastructure, ending the wars in the Middle East and securing social security.

Sandoval said the number one thing that people at the rally wanted was to work.

“They want a strong America,” Sandoval said in an interview with Clearly New Mexico. “They don’t want to be collecting unemployment. They don’t want to be on welfare. People want to work.”

While many speakers focused on what they believed Congress and President Barack Obama should do, State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, gave an example of something he thinks should be done during the upcoming special session.

Ortiz y Pino says that the legislature should pass the severance tax bond issue but only include projects that would create New Mexican jobs.

“We should only be spending that money this year on things that put New Mexicans to work,” Ortiz y Pino told the crowd. “They want to work. They’ve got a lot of energy, a lot of talent, we’ve got to get them back to work.”

Ortiz y Pino gave an example of “software programs put together by a consulting company in another state” as an example of something that the legislature would take out of the severance tax bond issue.

“It’s a small step, but when we start taking enough small steps, we’re actually going to turn this thing around and make the American dream realizable once again,” Ortiz y Pino said.

State Senator Eric Griego, D-Albuquerque, spoke to the crowd and invoked former president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or FDR, who presided over the United States emergence from the Great Depression.

“What FDR said, and he said it in pretty clear terms, was we cannot turn our government over to corporations,” Griego said to cheers from the crowd.

Griego also said that government has a role in rebuilding the economy.

“When times are tough, you don’t turn government away from people,” Griego declared. “You turn government and public servants towards people. You put them to work by rebuilding the economy. By rebuilding our roads and our schools and our bridges and our green infrastructure.”

Homemade signs at rally echoed the statements of many of the speakers.

One, held by a charter school teacher fresh off of his first day of classes, said that the government should be funding “schools, health care, jobs — not the war machine!”

New Mexico’s Empty Unemployment Rate Drop

By Matthew Reichbach

Despite headlines that the unemployment rate in New Mexico dropped to 6.8 percent in June, digging into the numbers shows the jobs situation in New Mexico remains dire.

The Santa Fe New Mexican noted that New Mexico ranked 50th in job growth. That’s dead last in the nation. Winthrop Quigley of the Albuquerque Journal said the numbers on jobs “are conflicting” and that “at least some employment data show New Mexico mired in a recession.” And the Santa Fe Reporter wrote that the numbers “don’t add up.”

Why?

Gerry Bradley, an economist and research director for New Mexico Voices for Children, told Clearly New Mexico that the unemployment rate largely reported in the media is “irrelevant” and that “no economist takes the unemployment rate as a good indicator of where the economy is going.”

Instead, Bradley suggests looking at the numbers from the Current Employment Statistics, or CES.

“The CES is a fairly large survey of employers in the state,” Bradley suggested in a phone interview with Clearly New Mexico. “At the same time that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is running this one program to get the unemployment rate, they’re running another survey that gives you employment data.”

Looking at this data paints a different picture from the unemployment rate that the media concentrates on.

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Is your head ready to explode yet, Susana?

It’s another day in the movie entitled, “Cursed to Live in Interesting Times.”

For the Memo to Governor Martinez entitled, “New Mexico’s Race to the Bottom”, there’s this tidbit:

Five Reasons Why States Can’t Create Jobs by Cutting Business Taxes from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

In the “Baby, It Hurts So Good Department”, tough economic times couldn’t be working out better for Big Oil. Despite all those regulatory fetters, today Exxon Mobil reported a first quarter profit jump of 69%.

In view of the pain that motorists are feeling at the gas pump, along with the alleged focus of some in Congress to attacking the deficit, one would think Speaker John Boehner and GOP budget master Paul Ryan would be on the same page. But apparently, someone didn’t get the memo:

While Boehner rejects request to end subsidies for oil firms (The Hill)

Rep. Paul Ryan says it’s time to do just that. (Politico)

And what about “Drill Baby Drill” as a way out of the crisis?  Former Bush-McCain economic advisor admitted it wouldn’t make a dime’s worth of difference.

Meanwhile, don’t cry for Massachusetts! Despite being burdened with a state-imposed universal health insurance mandate (RomneyCare), the Bay State experienced an economic growth surge ahead of the overall United States in the first quarter of 2011. Oh, and as an added bonus (or rather “fetter”), the state’s uninsured rate is below 5%.

Back here in New Mexico, we’re bracing for the cut-off of federal stimulus funds that, according to UNM economists, paid for as many as 23,000 jobs through June of last year.

Tick, tick, tick.

 

Gov., Legislature Miss Opportunities on the Budget

By Tracy Dingmann

This 2011 legislative session is not yet over, but already its legacy has been written.

The Governor and a majority of New Mexico lawmakers could have chosen solutions that would have helped ease the burden of the current budget shortfall by spreading the responsibility fairly among all New Mexicans and those who do business here – rather than balancing it on the backs of the middle class, teachers, public employees and the working poor.

Instead, the Governor and most legislators chose to ignore solutions that could have made out-of-state corporations and the rich pay their fair share.

Here’s just one example.

Because of a loophole in the tax code, large, out-of-state corporations like Wal-Mart and Target do not have to pay taxes on the money they make in New Mexico.

Senate Bill 6 called for the state to close that loophole through a process called combined reporting, which could have raised up to $77 million annually for New Mexico simply by forcing corporations to pay their fair share to support infrastructure, education and community services from which their New Mexico based operations benefit. The bill was introduced by Sen. Peter Wirth (D-Albuquerque). But legislators failed to pass it.

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