Day 4: Governor Martinez and State Republicans Obsess About Unions; Zero Jobs Created in Legislative Session

Minimum Wage increase fails because of GOP gimmicks

The number one issue in New Mexico is (lack of) jobs. For over 50 months—1522 days, Governor Martinez and state Republicans have done nothing to create jobs. Nothing.

Instead of bringing labor, business and government together to work for solutions, this Governor and the Republican Party have created one wedge issue after another, using every opportunity to divide New Mexicans. Leadership?

The top priorities for the Martinez administration are: destroy unions, make compromise a dirty word and blame Democrats for everything else. And suck up to national Republicans around the country. Anything but solve problems.

“What does it take for this Governor to provide leadership and create jobs? How many families have to suffer because of this Governor’s stubborn refusal to admit the problem and seek solutions? Democrats have offered ideas and solutions that are ignored and shoved aside. 22% of the state’s population lives in poverty and she’s worried about her next career move. Maybe she should stop screaming at legislators, take care of New Mexican families and just do her job,” said DPNM Chairman Sam Bregman.

Item: Unlike token Republican job bills, NM Senate Democrats have a solid plan that would create over 73,000 jobs, which is just the beginning. Real solutions for real jobs that will help reverse the mess that Governor Martinez has presided over in New Mexico.

Item: All four federal Democrats-Udall, Heinrich, Lujan and Lujan Grisham support a constitutional amendment to use a portion of state permanent fund to finance early childhood education. Another job creator.

Item: NM State Auditor Tim Keller discovers over $4.5 billion in funds appropriated but not spent, spread out over 737 different accounts. Why won’t Governor Martinez spend this money that would help spur economic development and create jobs?

Democrats, unlike Governor Martinez and House Republicans are ready, set and willing to create jobs and raise the minimum wage for New Mexican families.

Senators Udall and Heinrich Announce $833,700 Grant to Improve N.M. Affordable Housing Options

Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced that NeighborWorks America will award three New Mexico nonprofit affordable housing organizations with a total of $833,700 in grants funded through last December’s “omnibus” appropriations bill to fund the government. The funds will be used to help families who need safe, affordable housing, and create jobs in New Mexico.

Homewise, Inc. will receive $591,450 to help New Mexicans in Santa Fe and Albuquerque buy homes and make home improvements to improve energy efficiency. Tierra del Sol Housing Corporation in Southern New Mexico will receive $158,350 to support their Home Ownership Center, which offers a variety of services to homebuyers, and to fund small business lending. Navajo Partnership for Housing, Inc. in Gallup will receive $83,900 to promote and provide housing for New Mexico residents of the Navajo Nation.

“Every New Mexico child should be able to grow up in a safe environment, but too many families struggle to find quality affordable housing or make critical repairs. That’s why I’m a strong supporter of grant programs that help nonprofits like Tierra del Sol, Homewise, Navajo Partnership for Housing and others provide housing assistance to families where it’s most needed,” Udall said. “Not only do these programs help get families into safe housing, but promoting home ownership also creates good-paying jobs and helps our neighborhoods thrive. I’m proud of the work these organizations are doing to revitalize communities across New Mexico, and I’ll continue to fight for resources to support affordable housing initiatives.”

“Putting the dream of homeownership within reach for more New Mexicans will help create jobs and build stronger communities,” Heinrich said. “I look forward to working with Navajo Partnership for Housing, Tierra del Sol Housing Corporation, Homewise Inc., and others in providing safe, affordable housing for families across our state.”

NeighborWorks America is a public nonprofit organization, established by Congress in 1978 as the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation. The organization works with nonprofit partner organizations to support local and community-based solutions to community development and affordable housing issues across the country through financial and grant support, training, technical assistance, technology tools, and other resources.

Day 3: Governor’s Assault on Women’s Health is Taken From GOP Playbook

Governor Martinez attempted to ignore New Mexican families and put women’s health at risk to further her political career

This is day three for DPNM’s series in exposing Governor Martinez’s failed political agenda for the recent legislative session. Today’s topic is her extreme initiatives to limit access to women’s healthcare.

The Governor supported SB 347, which would have closed numerous clinics throughout the state that provide vital reproductive services to women; services ranging from family planning and birth control to non-surgical procedures.

“The Governor has once again showed complete disregard for the health and well being of New Mexican’s and instead has chosen to further her own political career,” stated DPNM Chairman Sam Bregman. “The people of our state have already said that women must have full reproductive rights and access to necessary medical services. Many women live in rural communities in our state that are far from hospitals. Access to clinics in their communities is the only safe way to ensure that they receive the services they need.”

HB390 and HB391 also passed the Republican controlled House with the backing of the Governor. These measures are an assault on a woman’s right to choose. Measures such as these would force young women who may have been sexually assaulted by a family member, to actually ask for that family member’s permission to get an abortion.

This is not the first legislative session that Governor Martinez has tried to limit access to proper healthcare and family planning for women. This Governor has taken a page out of the radical GOP playbook on these issues to increase her standing with the national GOP.

If you want to understand how she views the safety and wellbeing of women, simply look at her actions. Marcus Hiles, a wealthy donor from Texas who was also convicted of domestic violence in 2013, contributed $120,000 to the Governor and her supported PAC. While many other politicians who received contributions from Mr. Hiles have returned those contributions, Governor Martinez has stubbornly refused.

Thankfully, like the other terrible pieces of legislation that Governor Martinez advocated and pushed for during the 60-day session, these were ultimately stopped by NM Senate Democrats.

Senators Udall, Heinrich Urge IRS to Make Paper Tax Forms, Other Local Resources Available to Rural New Mexicans

This week, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich sent a letter to the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to express concerns about cuts to services, particuarly for rural and elderly New Mexicans. The letter follows numerous complaints from residents of Fort Sumner, Elephant Butte, Taos and across rural New Mexico about a lack of paper filing forms and reduced office hours due to budget cuts. With just under four weeks left to file income tax returns, Udall and Heinrich encouraged the IRS to make non-digital tax resources available statewide.

“IRS has reduced the number of offices and limited hours at locations where taxpayers can receive in-person assistance,” Udall and Heinrich wrote in the letter. “Furthermore, it was brought to our attention that the IRS no longer makes tax filing forms available at local libraries in rural communities such as Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Constituents who have inadequate access to digital alternatives have been left in the dark as to where to go to find tax forms.”

The letter notes that while making tax services available online is important, New Mexico is a rural state with a large number of senior citizens who lack Internet access and expertise. “As the IRS transitions to the digital era, it cannot do so at the cost of elderly and rural Americans,” the senators wrote.

The full text of the letter is HERE

Senator Heinrich Fights For Wildfire Funding Reform, Advocates For Healthy Watersheds

Yesterday during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on forest health, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) advocated for wildfire funding reform to restore New Mexico’s forests to healthy conditions in order to reduce catastrophic wildfires. The senator also discussed the affects watersheds have on outdoor recreation and permit programs in New Mexico.

Senator Heinrich is a leading advocate of catastrophic wildfire prevention programs in New Mexico, including hazardous fuel reduction and watershed restoration.

During the hearing Senator Heinrich also discussed the impact increased timber sales would have on watershed restoration projects in New Mexico and their affect on recreational facilities and permit programs. Outdoor recreation activities in New Mexico generate $6.1 billion annually in consumer spending and are also directly responsible for 68,000 New Mexico jobs.

Watch and share Senator Heinrich’s remarks at the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Day 2: Governor’s Misguided Approach on Education would do Irreparable Harm to Our Children

The Governor’s initiatives of “Mandatory Flunking” as well as the reliance on the PARCC exam would cause severe damage not only to our children, but to our schools as well

Today, as part of the Democrat Party’s five-day series on how the Governor’s political and divisive agenda has hurt New Mexicans – we focus on her misguided education policies. While The Governor’s attempts to destroy labor unions may have been at the top of her agenda, next on the list was her attempt to implement a mandatory flunking policy of any 3rd grader who didn’t meet certain reading standards. By failing these students and holding them back, we would be doing tremendous harm to the student’s psyche not to mention creating an unmanageable logjam in our 3rd grade classes around the state.

While Governor Martinez is focused on failing our 3rd graders and not getting them the help they need, she is also using arbitrary standardized tests (like the PARCC exam) to grade the effectiveness of our teachers and schools. The PARCC assessment is a tool that is being used by this administration to punish schools and teachers. At the same time, it is doing very little to help our students and their academic needs. Currently, PARCC and other standardized tests comprise of at least 50% of our teacher’s evaluations and 90% of our school’s grades. With that much emphasis placed on these standardized tests, teachers are forced to “teach to the test” instead of adequately preparing students for academic challenges in the future. Schools must develop curriculum based on standardized tests knowing that if they fail, their school could be shut down.

“The Governor has taken an approach towards education that fails to prepare our students for the future,” said DPNM Chairman Sam Bregman. “This administration is more focused on putting our children into academic boxes and not addressing their individual needs. Governor Martinez is obsessed with awarding lucrative contracts to out of state testing firms than she is with truly educating our children. The policies that the Governor is trying to implement would do severe damage to our children, our educators, our schools and our families.”

Democrats in the Senate were able to defeat the mandatory flunking measure in committee, ensuring that students don’t have to live in fear of social stigma.

Governor Martinez so far has refused to take the PARCC exam herself.

DPNM Legislative Wrap-Up

Dems held line on Governor’s extreme partisan agenda

New Mexico Democrats began the 60 day session doing what Democrats always do: drafting and proposing common sense legislation that would help and benefit New Mexican families.
Governor Martinez and state Republicans had other ideas that revolved around divisive wedge issues, like right to work for less and anti-choice legislation, which served no purpose other than to divide New Mexicans and further the Governor’s national political career.

PASSED:
• $6.2 billion budget for coming year
• 22-year gambling compact between state and Indian tribes

BLOCKED:
• Right-to-work legislation
• Repeal of 2003 driver’s license law
• Anti-education social promotion
• Anti-choice legislation

FAILED:
• Minimum wage increase
• $264 Public Works package

Thanks to the do-nothing GOP House and our vindictive, stubborn Governor, numerous Democratic bills seeking to improve the lives of New Mexican families were pushed aside and defeated. Even on the last day, when several Democratic Senators went to inform her that the Senate had adjourned, Governor Martinez exploded and behaved in a hostile manner. “It had the feel of a dictator being thwarted,” commented Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino.
Really?

That’s how this Governor ended the 52nd legislative session—blame Democrats, throw a nasty tantrum at state senators, then fly off to Florida to pursue your next career. Nice.
Thanks to organized labor and all working men and women for standing up for New Mexican families and the next generation.

DPNM is building a better future.

Senator Udall Warns Consumers About Scam Targeting Taxpayers

Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall warned consumers about a phone scam targeting thousands of taxpayers in New Mexico and throughout the country, and encouraged taxpayers to exercise caution when providing personal information solicited over the phone or online.

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), criminals are targeting taxpayers throughout the country with an aggressive and sophisticated impersonation scam. Callers claim to be IRS employees, often using fake names and caller ID that may make it appear as though their call is from the IRS. Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim does not comply, the scammers threaten victims with arrest, deportation, or suspension of a business or driver’s license. Alternatively, scammers have also offered victims a tax refund as a way to try to trick them into sharing personal information.

“I am deeply troubled that this scam continues to hurt hardworking New Mexicans and has cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Tax season is already stressful enough without worrying about fraud,” Udall said. “If you receive a call like this, please report it to law enforcement so they can help prevent others from falling victim to these criminal tactics. And I encourage New Mexicans to always be wary of providing personal information over the phone. As a former federal prosecutor and New Mexico Attorney General, I will continue pushing the IRS and the Federal Trade Commission to put an end to this fraud and hold these criminals accountable.”

Last year, Udall questioned IRS Commissioner John Koskinen about tax refund fraud, identity theft and other crimes targeting taxpayers, and how the IRS can improve services for taxpayers. The IRS does not call taxpayers to demand immediate payment without first having mailed an official notice. They do not require payment through a specific method, or ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone. Additionally, the IRS does not threaten to bring in police or law enforcement groups to arrest individuals for not paying.

Further information on IRS tax scams, including how to report suspected tax fraud activity, can be found HERE.

NM Senate Democrats Keep Promises to New Mexico in 2015 Session; Push Legislation to Create Jobs, Improve Education, Protect Water and Air, Salvage Behavioral Health & More

During the 2015 Legislative session, Senate Democrats worked effectively for the people of New Mexico.  Senate Democrats’ top priority this Session was to create jobs and stimulate economic activity, reflected in their ‘Ready-to-Work’ legislative package.  Many job-creating measures were passed in the Senate and, if enacted, will help reverse the low-growth course the state has been experiencing.   Democrats also fought effectively to improve public education and job training, protect at-risk children, safeguard air and water, and help New Mexico’s most vulnerable citizens.

“I am proud of our substantial accomplishments in this Legislative Session to advance our vision for a better New Mexico.  Senate Democrats were bold and imaginative to try to create more jobs for hard-pressed residents of our state. That’s what has been missing for the last four years in the state’s economic policies,” said Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-29-Bernalillo & Valencia).

“We strongly disagreed with the Governor during this session on a broad range of issues, especially on capital outlay.  As a special favor to the oil and gas industry – which is enormously profitable today and which also happens to be her biggest political donor – she gutted $80 million for urgent funding for the facilities that serve thousands of our low-income seniors across the state daily, and facilities that serve our children in public schools and our colleges and university students.  Instead of helping them, she chose to ignore the needs in the capital outlay bill, so that taxpayers can foot the bill for expensive road improvements in Southeast New Mexico,” added Sen. Sanchez.

In the past four years, New Mexico has suffered from the lowest job growth in the nation and is losing many of its residents to surrounding states that offer better paying employment opportunities. This year, Senate Democrats introduced creative bills to better utilize New Mexico’s resources, help small businesses grow, and improve the opportunities for working people.

Some notable examples that passed both chambers include the Industrial Hemp Act, passed by both the Senate and the House, which will create thousands of jobs and give New Mexico’s agricultural industry a strong boost. Higher education institutions will begin research to prepare the state to grow this promising cash crop when approved by the federal government.

The Small Business Set Aside Act sets aside 33 percent of all state contracts for New Mexico businesses. It will help local businesses grow and encourage resident entrepreneurs to fill the gaps where we currently do not have a business that provides a specific product or service. Other important bills in the ‘Ready-to-Work’ package can be viewed here: Ready to Work Legislative Package.

Other Senate Democrat initiatives include:

  • The Sustainable Building Tax Credit bill encourages private sector design and construction of green, energy-efficient, sustainable buildings for commercial and residential use. This measure is a strong job creation bill.
  • Legislation that requires health insurance companies to help the State purchase vaccines for privately insured children in New Mexico.
  • The Governor’s behavioral health debacle shut down most of the state’s behavioral health providers two years ago.   Most were forced out of business for alleged ‘fraud’ without any due process. The Senate responded in this session by passing legislation that secures due process in such instances in the future. The bill clarifies the definition of Medicaid “fraud” and mandates that due process is given to health providers who are accused of Medicaid fraud.
  • Additionally, a new 22-year Indian Gaming Compact passed both the Senate and House, and now sits on the Governor’s desk. This measure ensures tribal casinos may continue their crucial economic development activities.

The Administration pushed again to repeal driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.  But senators from both sides of the aisle came together and passed bipartisan compromise legislation that is fair and keeps New Mexicans safe. Under the Senate’s two tiered license bill two types of licenses are available:  one that could be used for legal operation of vehicles and for official federal ID purposes and is REAL ID compliant, and one simply allowing for legal operation of vehicles. The bipartisan measure keeps drivers insured and the children of immigrants with legal transportation to school, the hospital and recreational activities.

Senate Democrats also prevented bills that would hurt New Mexicans.

Democrats were successful in stopping several anti-worker bills, including the Governor’s so-called right-to-work legislation that targeted workers who are organized into labor unions in order to advocate for better pay, health care, pensions and workplace safety. In addition, they blocked detrimental education ‘reforms’, and opposed successfully the bills that were not in New Mexico’s best interest.

Senate Democrats stopped bills to mandatorily flunk third graders – even over the wishes of their parents – based on their score on a single, standardized test.  Senate Democrats sided with parents and teachers, and agreed with researchers who show that this measure is detrimental to students’ education.

Senate Democrats ensured women’s health decisions remain between a woman, her family, and her doctor.

Senate Democrats were united in their commitment to work for the best interest of all New Mexicans. Senate Democrats fight for higher wages, for better schools, and a cleaner environment.

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