New Mexico’s Budget Crisis: “It’s No Laughing Matter” (RADIO SPOT)

With the prospect of a special session of the legislature fast approaching to address a looming budget crisis, the Center for Civic Policy is running this radio ad in selected areas of the state which offers our take on the issue and calls upon constituents to take action:

A thirty-second radio spot can hardly do justice to this fiscal train wreck. A bit of context is in order.

The State of New Mexico faces a serious budget deficit as the result of a shortfall in revenues. Revenue projections made back in January were overly optimistic, it seems. It now appears certain that Governor Martinez soon will call a special session of the legislature to fix a growing budget crisis.

The Governor’s answer is a 5 percent across the board cut in funding for state agencies. New revenues are off the table, she says.

To call this approach unwise would be an understatement. How about unconscionable.

Consider these facts about the quagmire in which New Mexico finds itself:

  • 49th in child poverty
  • K-12 funding is nearly 11% less per student than pre-2008 recession levels
  • 7,000 fewer children fewer children receive child care assistance than in 2010
  • Medicaid was already underfunded this year by $86 million, causing cuts of over $400 million in health care services when lost federal matching dollars are included.
  • Low- and middle-income New Mexicans pay twice the rate in state and local taxes as the richest 1 percent.

We could go on and on.

Low oil prices are cited as the cause of the crisis. But overlooked in the midst of all the hand-wringing, are the horribly irresponsible tax policies enacted in recent years.

The cold hard truth of the matter is this: The Governor is determined to protect her prized corporate tax giveaways by making New Mexico’s working families pay for them.

In 2013 Governor Martinez and the legislature gave huge tax cuts and tax breaks to large corporations, many of them out-of-state. These so-called “business incentives” were supposed to cause an explosion of job creation.

Well, it hasn’t worked. They just took the money and ran.

Today New Mexico has the 3rd highest jobless rate in the nation.

It stands to reason that our continuing underinvestment in education and healthcare is making New Mexico a less than desirable place for companies that are looking for a place to relocate.

A better answer is for legislators to say “no” to more cuts. It’s time to make corporations and the well-connected pay their fair share.

 

Primary Election Day – June 7: Don’t Forget to Vote!

Primary Election day is Tuesday, June 7. Polls open 7 am to 7 pm.

Bernalillo County Voting Convenience Centers:

Doña Ana County Voting Convenience Centers:

Family-Friendly Businesses

The New Mexico Family-Friendly Business Award was created by the Task Force on Work Life Balance to recognize New Mexico employers and businesses that offer family-friendly employee benefits and promote increasing the number of businesses with family centered polices and work force access to them.

NMTFWLBThe board and staff of the Center for Civic Policy are proud that our organization has been recognized as one of these best practice family-friendly work places.

What are the benefits of family-friendly best practices? Here’s what the Task Force on Work Life Balance has to say:

Best practice employers foster flexibility to achieve a better balance between work and family responsibilities for all employees. From reduced absenteeism to improved productivity and job satisfaction, there are significant benefits for employees and employers in providing flexibilities for work and family balance. Work and family flexibilities ensure employers and employees balance work and family commitments by using employment arrangements that help employees manage family and lifestyle commitments while taking into account business needs. The benefits of work and family flexibilities can be achieved in all workplaces, regardless of the size of the business, by developing and implementing family-friendly workplace policies.

Tik Tok… not just a Ke$ha song! Clock is ticking on Governor’s decision whether to close corporate tax loophole (VIDEO)

Will she or won’t she? That IS the question.

Will Governor Susana Martinez do the right thing and and sign Senate Bill 9 into law, closing the tax loophole for Big Box out-of-state retailers and give New Mexico businesses a fair shake in the bargain? Or… (shudder), will she veto the bill? (See “Countdown to Decision“.)

As Sarah Kennedy explains, time is running out!


 

To contact the Governor’s office:

Phone: 505-476-2200

Email: http://www.governor.state.nm.us/Contact_the_Governor.aspx

 

ABQ City Council Redistricting Plan Passes on 5-4 Vote

By Matthew Reichbach

The Albuquerque City Council approved a redistricting map that will eliminate Commissioner Ike Benton’s district, which includes Albuquerque’s downtown area, and move it to the fast-growing westside part of the city. The map, which passed on a 5-4 party-line vote, uses the Rio Grande as a border.

Benton would be paired with Debbie O’Malley in a district that includes downtown and the North Valley areas of Albuquerque.

The map goes to Mayor Richard Berry who is likely to sign the redistricting map — but the battle likely won’t end there, as opponents say the map “packs” minorities in one district, diluting the minority voting strength, which would violate the Voters Rights Act.

The newly created Westside district, while expected to still be friendly to Democrats, would have a super majority of Hispanics — 82 percent. This is why opponents of the map say that the city council “packed” the district with minority voters at the expense of other districts. According to the U.S. Census, Albuquerque is 46.7 percent Hispanic.

Opponents also pointed out that with consolidation of most of the old District 3 into O’Malley’s North Valley District 2 will mean that almost all of the city’s federally designated “pockets of poverty” will be contained in a single district.

If opponents so choose, the redistricting map could join the New Mexico House of Representatives map in the courts, drawing out the process further. Insofar as the next Albuquerque municipal election is not until 2013, however, there may not be a great sense of urgency on the part of the courts in finalizing a new council map. This would be in sharp contrast to the legal battle involving the N.M. state House of Representatives map as the clock is ticking away with an impending primary election scheduled for the first Tuesday in June.

The big winner of the new map is Albuquerque’s Westside, which would have three full districts, an increase of the current two districts and a part of another.

O’Malley introduced a competing map, which was tabled, which would have extended borders across the Rio Grande and kept all five current city councilors in their districts. Opponents of that map say they preferred that the Rio Grande be used, when possible, as a natural border for districts, something that O’Malley says is divisive for the city.

The City Council said that Benton would be allowed to continue serving until his term ends in 2013, but court action could force Benton from his seat. In that case, the mayor would be allowed to appoint a replacement, likely increasing the Republican advantage on the city council from its current 5-4 advantage to 6-3.

Odds and Ends

  • Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis, the map’s sponsor, said before the hearing that the map was neutral because it was based almost entirely on a map created by Research & Polling. Ironically, Republicans involved in the state House redistricting case have made an major issue in their court filings of what they allege is the Democratic bias of the very same Research & Polling and its owner, Brian Sanderoff, which also performed the technical mapping work for the  state legislature.

Liveblogging the Final Day

Countdown to adjournment at noon. Here’s the Roundhouse liveblog, courtesy on NMPolitics.net.

Liveblogging till the END!

…the end of the legislative session, that is. (This is not the End Times liveblog.)

It’s live and it’s real. The gang at NMPolitics.net is going all in.  Heath, Gwyneth and our very own Matt “Red Bull” Reichbach, along with the usual cast of journalistic characters, will be liveblogging the N.M. Legislative until the session adjourns tomorrow at noon.

You can follow the action here. Many thanks to Heath Haussamen and Gwyneth Doland for letting us join in.


 

Senate passes budget in late night session

By Matthew Reichbach

Late Monday night the Senate voted 34-6 to send the slightly amended budget back to the House. The Senate debated less than 45 minutes on the budget, showing that the differences in the budget were worked out in the interim and in committees before the budget reached the floor.

Unlike in recent years, the budget passed with bipartisan support and very little controversy. With a budget surplus for the first time in years, the legislators were left to decide how much to be apportioned to tax cuts and new spending, rather than whether to make drastic cuts or raise revenue in the form of taxes.

The Senate added around $5.2 million in funding to the budget. The Senate Majority Caucus wrote about where the extra funding went in a press release sent after the vote:

The appropriations gave funding to projects like drug courts, food banks, adult literacy programs, library services and established a Ben Lujan Cancer Program at the University of New Mexico. Also included are budget funds to eliminate unfair mortgage practices, and job training incentive programs.

The budget leaves about $36 million for tax cuts.

Sen. Rod Adair (R-Roswell) attempted to amend the budget to include priorities that Gov. Susana Martinez outlined in her State of the State address that were not included in the budget, including $400,000 to buy a reading book for all kindergartners.

Adair also introduced an amendment to stop any school district worker from receiving pay while serving in the state legislature as an elected official. This came after an investigative report by KRQE about Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton receiving pay during her time as legislator in apparent violation of an Albuquerque Public Schools policy that disallowed administrators from drawing pay while on legislative leave. APS subsequently changed the policy after the story came out.

However, some school districts allow teachers or other school district workers to continue to be paid while on leave serving in the legislature. Sen. John Arthur Smith (D-Deming) said that Adair’s amendment would be an attack on the autonomy of school districts to decide their own rules on the subject.

Adair had four proposed amendments in all. None received a majority of votes.

The bill will now head back to the House where one of three outcomes await it: (1) The bill will be changed some more and then sent back to the Senate. (2) The House will vote to concur with the Senate’s changes. (3) The two chambers will iron out their differences in a conference committee.

But, as has typified the entire budget debate throughout the session, little in the way of drama is expected during the remainder of the budget process.