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Today's Opinions

  • Governor perpetuating false information about RTW legislation

    As I watch this year’s legislative session, I am concerned with the misinformed claims made by Republican Governor Susana Martinez that have made Right-to-Work/anti-worker legislation her top priority.  
    When I think of all the issues we face here in our state in building a healthy economy I am appalled that the governor will be attacking our working families.
    When the governor says Right-to-Work (RTW) is one of several hurdles New Mexico faces in attempting to become more economically competitive with neighboring states she couldn’t be more wrong. Talent and the cost of doing business are more important when factoring whether or not a company will do business in New Mexico or anywhere else in the United States. Businesses look to see what a state has to offer them and the families they will bring with them when they come.
    Businesses look at the labor market and how well the labor force is trained before committing to bringing their business to a site.

  • Public land sales meet with strong resistance

    The push for state takeover of federal land provoked a big push back. Last week, the roar of hundreds of angry hunters, anglers and others filled the Capitol Rotunda and sent me scampering out of the press gallery to see what was going on.
    A standing-room-only crowd of camo-wearing folks rallied to say they won’t stand for the loss of one acre.
    “I don’t want to see any public land sold,” said a gun-store owner, to loud cheering. “I also have an issue of wasted money for studies other states have already done.”
    They wore stickers saying, “Keep your hands off MY public lands.”
    The source of all this excitement is Senate Memorial 6 by Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview, which asks the state to study federal land management and ownership and evaluate the impacts of federal revenue streams on the state and local communities. Reportedly, Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, plans to introduce a similar measure.
    Last year, counties received $37.7 million in federal payments in lieu of taxes (PILT), and the state received $9.5 million from the Secure Rural Schools program.

  • Global study offers path for literacy improvements

    A first-time global financial literacy study shows that the keys to successful personal finance education are student perseverance and an openness to problem solving.  
    That’s one of the main findings in the inaugural financial literacy portion of the Program of International Student Assessment (PISA) test, which evaluated the skills and knowledge of 29,000 15-year-olds in 18 countries and economies in 2012.
    Final results were released in September, and PISA officials announced that the assessment of financial literacy will be offered as an optional component in 2015 testing.
    PISA was launched in 2000 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which promote policies that support economic and social well-being around the world.
    U.S. students earned an average score of 492 out of a possible 700, which ranks those teens between eighth and 12th place among all 18 participating countries and economies, according to the PISA study.
    Other findings from the U.S. results:

  • Departures from New Mexico way up

    We got smaller last year.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if the statement introduced a celebration of statewide weight loss? Not exactly, though our total weight may have been less on July 1, 2014, than a year earlier. Any weight loss would be because there were fewer people in the state, 1,540 to be exact.
    Specifically, the Census Bureau estimates that New Mexico lost 1,540 people (or 0.06 percent) during the 2013-14 year. The estimates were released Dec. 23.
    Six states presented similar attractiveness to the their population. On a percentage basis, four outperformed us: West Virginia (-0.18 percent); Illinois (-0.08 percent); Connecticut and Alaska (both -0.07 percent).
    This single population performance number reflects four elements: births, deaths, people moving internationally and people moving from state to state.
    Statistically, births and deaths are simple. Each event generates a piece of paper, a certificate. These are filed with the state and counted, accurately, one presumes.
    About 16,500 New Mexicans die each year, a figure that grows a few hundred each year, based on the past four years. The number of births, around 27,000 annually, declines about 500 each year.
    Necessarily, the number of people moving must be estimated. Techniques are well established. An estimated number really occupies a range.

  • Letters to the editor 2-3-15

    Praise for Aspen Ridge

    My reason for writing this is two-fold. First and foremost there are no words that could express fully the thanks and praise for the care, compassion and love shown from the staff at Aspen Ridge Assisted Living Facility to my mother in law, Virginia Marr, who recently passed away.
    We could never have made it through this experience without their help and expertise. How lucky this community is to have such a wonderful facility to help with our aging community members. Thanks also to Ambercare Hospice for
    their help during Virginia’s last days.
    A very special thanks to the United Church, Pastor David Elton and his staff who helped us through this very emotional and sad time. They were instrumental in making Virginia’s service so very special to us all. They really went above and beyond to make her day the best it could have been and I know Virginia would have been honored and pleased to hear and see all her family and friends there to help celebrate her life.
    Our thanks to the staff at Medical Associates of Northern New Mexico, the Los Alamos Medical Center Emergency Room and the Los Alamos County Fire and Rescue who have assisted us on many occasions.

  • Tijerina the Tiger

    The death of Reies Lopez Tijerina in an El Paso hospital late last month occasioned a good deal of comment and commentary.
    Tijerina invited comment and commentary, even sought it.
    His main claim to fame occurred almost a half century ago when he and a band of followers stormed the Rio Arriba County Courthouse in Tierra Amarilla, wounding a jailer and police officer and taking a reporter and the sheriff hostage.
    It was a big deal. “Tijerina’s Rio Arriba Court House raid,” it came to be called, and he ended up spending a couple of years in federal prison. But that was sometime later and unrelated to his Court House rampage.
    Tijerina and his fellow raiders initially got away by escaping into nearby Kit Carson National Forest. His grievance was the injustice he considered New Mexico’s original Hispanic settlers to have experienced when their land grants were abrogated or outright taken from them.
    It made him quite a celebrity, even something of a hero to many young Hispanic and Latino activists who seized upon the land grant issue and made it “a cause celebre.”
    This was in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when ferment and activism was abroad in the land.

  • Tax burden unfairly shouldered by poor

    American politics are dominated by those with money. As such, America’s tax debate is dominated by voices that insist the rich are unduly persecuted by high taxes and that low-income folks are living the high life.
    Indeed, a new survey by the Pew Research Center recently found that the most financially secure Americans believe “poor people today have it easy.”
    The rich are certainly entitled to their own opinions — but, as the old saying goes, nobody is entitled to their own facts.
    With that in mind, here’s a set of tax facts that’s worth considering: Middle- and low-income Americans are facing far higher state and local tax rates than the wealthy.
    In all, a comprehensive analysis by the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy finds that the poorest 20 percent of households pay on average more than twice the effective state and local tax rate (10.9 percent) as the richest 1 percent of taxpayers (5.4 percent).
    ITEP researchers say the incongruity derives from state and local governments’ reliance on sales, excise and property taxes rather than on more progressively structured income taxes that increase rates on higher earnings. They argue that the tax disconnect is helping create the largest wealth gap between the rich and middle class in American history.

  • By and large, who pollutes?

    A strain of common belief says super-sized contributions to election campaigns weaken environmental safeguards. All things considered, is this so?
    All things considered, no one knows. Things to consider are scattered too widely to judge as a whole.
    When data are scattered widely, we naturally focus on what we see first. But we can zoom out to see more.
    Begin at home. Big corporations make large donations to U.S. election campaigns. Pollution from big corporations is easily seen. Ergo, some say that worse pollution stems from hefty campaign contributions.
    These puzzle pieces start the idea that the quality of the land, air and water would be better sooner if corporate money had less influence in politics.
    A wider scan sees more to puzzle over.
    Corporate money has much less influence in Chinese politics. Yet, pollution is plainly worse in China than the U.S.
    The 2008 Summer Olympics in China’s capital city, Beijing, proved the point to the world. The government shut down plants in the region during the games to improve air quality.
    At a glance, we see worse harms in fumy places where corporations and capitalism alike are held in less regard than in our country. Harm simmers in many kettles of governance.
    And there is more to take in. A still wider scan brings to light more complications.