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Today's Opinions

  • Rep. Chandler co-sponsors transparency, healthcare and education bills

    BY REP. CHRISTINE CHANDLER
    New Mexico House of Representatives, Dist. 43

    Rep. Christine Chandler has co-sponsored several important bills this legislative session. Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto (SD 15) and Representative Christine Chandler (HD 43)’s bill (SB 11) closing the so-called lobbying “loophole” has successful passed out of committee and onto the Senate. The bill is similar to Senator Ivey-Soto’s bill from the 2018 session that was vetoed by the former governor.

    According to the Secretary of State, Maggie Toulouse Oliver, current law needs clarity with regard to small lobbying expenses. Currently, the law requires individual expenses over $100 to be reported but ignores small cumulative lobbying expenses that in total are more than $100. The bill clarifies that cumulative small donation lobbying of $100 or more should be reported. “I am committed to ensuring New Mexicans have more information about the money that is spent influencing policy at the legislature,” Rep. Chandler said. “I am proud to to work with Senator Ivey-Soto to get this important legislation signed this year by the governor.”

  • For education reform to work, more money must reach classroom

    BY FRED NATHAN
    Think New Mexico

    As Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the legislature consider a package of bills to transform New Mexico’s public schools, Think New Mexico urges them to include House Bill 77, which will make sure that a greater proportion of New Mexico’s education funding reaches our students and teachers in the classroom.

    The education reform bills being considered by lawmakers were developed in response to last year’s landmark Yazzie/Martinez court decision. In that decision, Judge Singleton directed New Mexico lawmakers to spend more on education for the state’s most vulnerable students. Judge Singleton also made clear that this additional money must be spent on evidence-based “classroom instruction programs such as quality pre-K, K-3 Plus, extended school year, and quality teachers” that have been proven to make a difference for at-risk children.

    In order to accomplish this, New Mexico will need to change the way it spends its education dollars. When Think New Mexico analyzed New Mexico’s education spending, we discovered that in the decade between 2006-2007 and 2016-2017, more than two-thirds of school districts across New Mexico (61 of 89) grew their central office administrative spending faster than their classroom spending.

  • Killing the goose that lays the golden eggs

    BY REP. ROD MONTOYA
    R-District 1, San Juan

    What is the No. 1 source of education and state government funding in New Mexico? What is our No. 1 industry for employment, high paying jobs and tax revenue?

    What is the specific source of the current $1.1 billion budget surplus? – If you said that the oil and gas industry is the “Golden Goose,” you would be correct. So why is the governor trying place natural gas production on the endangered species list?

    Since the beginning of the year, we’ve seen the new administration declare war on oil and gas producers, and at the same time propose a 13 percent budget increase. That’s like expecting to win the lottery every year!

    Unfortunately, the governor has announced plans to institute a Methane Rule, and the first order of business for her new (OCC) Oil Conservation Commission members is to undo a previous decision to update to the Blanco / Mesa Verde Pool Rule. The Pool Rule allows existing gas wells to be reworked to produce natural gas from multiple gas strata pockets.

  • Why LANL cannot host a plutonium pit factory

    By Greg Mello
    Los Alamos Study Group, Guest Columnist

    At the end of the Cold War it made sense for the Department of Energy (DOE) to consolidate and temporarily preserve pit production technology at LANL. Given the National Nuclear Security Administration’s(NNSA’s) mandate, it still does.

    However, hopes for a reliable, small, pit production capacity at LANL – let alone an enduring one that could quantitatively contribute to maintaining the nuclear stockpile over decades – didn’t pan out.

    In 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down and the Rocky Flats Plant madeits last pit, PF-4 was only 11 years old. The extent of LANL’s seismic hazard was then unknown, officially at least.

    Likewise, the poor geotechnical properties of the unconsolidated volcanic sediments at LANL’s TA-55 were unknown then.

    They were certainly plain to see in the surrounding terrain and in records of TA-55 borings.

  • It’s not hard to understand why teachers are leaving

    New Mexico is short of teachers – about 740, according to NMSU’s College of Education. Vacancies are up by 264 from last year. Add in counselors, librarians and nurses, and we’re short 1,173 skilled professionals.

    Some 53,455 students are being taught by substitutes.

    Understanding why isn’t too hard. It’s pay, job insecurity related to testing, and the lack of respect for teachers, according to NMSU’s survey of teachers and comments from union representatives. Half of 1,900 survey respondents would not recommend a career in education.

    These shortages didn’t just sneak up on us. The warnings began in 2012.

    During the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years, when 23.2 percent of teachers left, New Mexico had the nation’s second highest rate of teacher turnover, according to the Learning Policy Institute, a California think tank. Only Arizona was worse, at 23.6 percent.

  • Russia shows little regard for international law

    The Telegraph published this editorial Nov. 27 on the seizure of three Ukrainian warships by the Russian navy.

    The seizure of three Ukrainian warships by the Russian navy in the Black Sea shows that Moscow has lost none of its enthusiasm for seeking to intimidate its neighbor. Accusing the Ukrainians of illegally entering what Moscow deems to be Russian territorial waters, Russian warships are reported to have fired on two Ukrainian vessels, and rammed a third. As is often the case with unprovoked acts of aggression by Russia, the attacks took place when the rest of the world was distracted, on this occasion because EU leaders were meeting to sign off the Brexit deal.

    Indeed, it is precisely because the world has failed to take sufficient interest in Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, and its subsequent meddling in eastern Ukraine, that the Kremlin felt emboldened to attack the warships sailing through the Kerch Strait which, under international law, is designated as shared territorial waters.

  • GM decision a product of U.S. market trends

    The Wall Street Journal published this editorial Nov. 27 on a U.S. auto maker saying it plans to eliminate 15 percent of its salaried workforce in North America and stop production at five plants that employ 6,700 workers.

    President Trump believes he can command markets like King Canute thought he could the tides. But General Motors has again exposed the inability of any politician to arrest the changes in technology and consumer tastes roiling the auto industry.

    GM said it plans to eliminate 15 percent of its salaried workforce in North America and stop production at five plants that employ 6,700 workers, including one in storied Lordstown, Ohio. “We are taking these actions now while the company and the economy are strong to stay in front of a fast-changing market,” CEO Mary Barra said.

    The U.S. auto maker plans to redeploy some $4.5 billion in annual savings to more profitable truck, electric-car and autonomous-vehicle manufacturing. Investors cheered by bidding up GM’s stock, but the President reacted like a spurned suitor. “You know, the United States saved General Motors and for her to take that company out of Ohio is not good,” he said Monday, adding Tuesday that he might end GM’s subsidies. GM shares promptly fell 2.6 percent.

  • Remember who really counts the votes

    The books are almost closed on the recent election.

    I hope we all have learned this truth: Nobody promised you final results on Election Night. Or for several days after, for that matter.

    Please get that straight. If the votes don’t all get counted within the first few hours, that does not mean anything went wrong.

    We’re spoiled because the TV networks have very accurate analytical methods to project results. Usually the projections are right, but not always.

    If CNN or CBS News or Channel 7 announces a winner, that announcement has no constitutional or legal standing.

    None whatsoever. Those announcements are estimates by private news organizations.  

    What’s real is votes counted by county clerks, watched by observers of both (or maybe more than two) parties. If that takes a few days, it just means something happened to make it take longer. For races above county level, the results are not final until they are certified by the Secretary of State several days later.

    In-person votes are the easiest to count. Those ballots, both from early voting and Election Day, go through machines that record and tally them. The totals are added as precinct officials close up and take their materials to the county clerk.