New Mexico is one of the most beautiful and unique places in the nation in part because we don’t have the congestion, urban sprawl and overdevelopment that plagues so many other places. And most of us agree that we’d like to keep it that way.
But we are also one of the poorest states in the nation because we lack the economic strength and diversity to provide a good quality of life, decent healthcare and good schools for our families.
The reality is that the best source of tax money is business — more money in our state budget and a sustainable quality of life for all of us starts with making it easier for responsible, sustainable businesses to DO business here in New Mexico.
To be clear, this does not mean supporting policies that allow businesses to do whatever they want regardless of how it affects the people, the economy or the environment. Just like a fair football game needs a good referee to make sure everyone’s playing fair, the government’s role is to make sure we are all protected from abuses of corporate power and unfair business practices that hurt all of us – including the businesses who are doing things right.
But when regulations and taxes become so costly and so complicated that businesses literally can’t afford to come to New Mexico to set up shop, we have a problem. Because without those businesses, we have no economy and our unique way of life is threatened. And that hurts all of us.
We could go into a lot of detail here about policies on combating corruption, but too often the details masks the larger issue, so let’s get right to the point:
A good government has zero tolerance for corruption of any kind, from members of any party, and in any office.
As your representative, I will not engage in cronyism, sweetheart deals, pay-to-play schemes or any other form of corruption or ethics violations, nor will I look the other way when others do so.
I will support legislation and reform to create fair elections in New Mexico, including a photo ID system that creates accountability at the polls while not penalizing people who don’t have access to photo ID systems.
The diversity of people and cultures that have shaped New Mexico is one of our richest and most important strengths. To protect our heritage, our economy and our freedom, we must continue to keep the doors of American opportunity open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. Those open doors are the foundation of who we are as a nation.
But as Americans, we are also a people with a deep reverence for fairness and an abiding respect for the law of the land. And that means that those who come to seek opportunity in America must do so legally, those who have disobeyed the law must be held accountable and those who have violated our borders with drugs and violence must not be tolerated.
We have an obligation to legal residents to protect our borders from crime, drugs and violence, while finding ways of making the path to citizenship less bureaucratic and more fair for honest people who obey the law and are ready, willing and able to contribute their hard work and dedication to the future of America.
The solutions to these competing needs are not easy or obvious. There are good people on both sides who disagree on how to proceed. And although many approaches have been proposed and tried, the truth is that I don’t think anyone has exactly the right solution yet. As a legislator, I am ready to sit down at the table and get to work crafting solutions that protect our borders while preserving our legacy of cultural diversity.
The mismanagement of our state budget has created a funding crisis for our schools and that’s a problem. There is little doubt that good funding creates good schools — smaller class sizes, better teachers and computers in the classroom are just a few benefits that money brings.
But the truth is that New Mexico has spent huge sums of our tax money on education and our schools still rank near the bottom in drop-out rates and academic achievement. Clearly, it’s going to take more than just money to solve our education problems.
Well-intentioned regulations have backfired by creating an educational system that’s overly dependent on “one size fits all” test scores to get state and federal funding, where our teachers are forced to “teach to the test,” rather than developing flexible, creative ways to teach our children critical thinking skills and keep them engaged with school and learning. State government can and should set broad-based educational standards and goals. But then we need to get out of the way and let local schools – and the teachers responsible for teaching our children – get the job done in ways that work for them.
Let’s work together to find innovative ways of creating bridges between the community and the schools, rather than barriers that make our schools irrelevant to anyone who doesn’t have a child in the system. When the community and the schools work together and share resources, everyone benefits.
And let’s not be hesitant about looking to other states to find new ways of improving our educational system. Let’s explore different ways of grading schools, the possibilities of magnet and charter schools and anything else that will help give our kids a fair chance at a great future.