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Editorial

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The 2018 Legislative Session and Priorities Moving Forward
By Senator Pete Campos

Although the 2018 legislative session has ended and campaign season has begun in earnest, the legislature's work is not done yet. The results of the session allow us to intelligently plan for the future and fully vet priority issues that will improve life for all New Mexicans. For the first time in several years, New Mexico received some good budget news beginning last fall. Instead of cutting programs and sweeping funds just to make ends meet, we were able to improve salaries for teachers, law enforcement and corrections officers and other state employees. We were also able to significantly increase funding for early childhood education, which should help our youngest residents immensely as they begin their journeys toward better education and eventually better-paying jobs.

The loss of Dr. Billy Graham leaves an enormous void in our public life. He was one of our greatest faith leaders, called to a life of service to God and fellow man. He shared a message of respect, inclusion, grace, forgiveness, unity and love that made our nation a better and stronger place.

Like every other issue facing us today, the Holloman AFB issue is extremely complex. We can't really blame Otero County and Alamogordo for wanting to create 638 new jobs, and when I get to what I want to say about economic well being you'll understand why I say this.

But first let me say that this is a public lands issue. The Gila Wilderness Area, the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Area, the Gila National Forest belong to the public – that's us, all of us. The Native and Hispanic people who have been here for centuries, the many generations of ranchers and miners, the hunters and the hippies, the fishermen and hikers, the artists and the newbies and the people who travel from all over the country and all over the world to visit this pristine land.

By Arthur A. Garcia USDA Rural Development State Director for New Mexico

As we near the end of another winter, many parents and children are already beginning to think about summer. Sadly, though, the thought for some parents is: "How will I feed my children?"

Childhood hunger is a persistent problem in many parts of rural America. This especially so during the summer when school is out and many poor kids do not have enough to eat. My agency, USDA Rural Development, is working closely with our sister agency, the Food and Nutrition Service, in an innovative partnership to help alleviate hunger by providing nutritious meals to children during the summer. Together, we are working to implement Secretary Perdue's vision to "Do right and feed everyone."

Ricardo B. Aguirre, candidate for Bayard Municipal Judge is on unsupervised probation for a second DWI offense. According to the Bayard Magistrate Court, he was placed on this probation on Oct. 12, 2017 and it expires Sept. 16, 2018.

 By Senator Pete Campos

I want to take a moment to clear up a few issues concerning New Mexico's legislative retirement plan. Our retirement plan is unique because New Mexico is unique. We are a citizen legislature - the only one in the nation that does not pay members some kind of salary. New Mexico legislators spend days and weeks away from their families, loved ones and jobs during legislative sessions and during the interim. While we legislators do receive per diem and mileage reimbursement, this tends to barely cover gasoline, hotels and meals, and it does not account for wear and tear to vehicles or lost personal income.

The legislative retirement plan actually began in 1987 as part of the retirement system for all public employees. The plan was amended, and a separate funding stream for it was identified, in 2003. As of the end of 2017, 313 members have signed up for the plan, with just over half of those members already retired. The plan is administered by the Public Employees Retirement Association.

By Senator Pete Campos
After spending the past several years trying to dig ourselves out of a financial recession and slow economic growth, New Mexico has the potential for a bright future, but only if we have our priorities in order. On the one hand, the human spirit is dynamic, fluid and persistent and is led by our curiosity and an innate need to address issues that affect our lives and to help one another. At the same time, we are faced with news of shocking crime against children, senseless road accidents, addictions that devastate individuals and families and robberies that can financially cripple small businesses. As the current legislative session winds down, legislators are working hard to balance those two narratives and to identify priorities that will help our state grow while trying to tackle some of the darker issues we face.

To the Editor:

The decline of Scholarship money from the WNMU Foundation

The WNMU Foundation paid out $114,678 in scholarship money during the 2016-17 school year. Total expenses of the Foundation for the year was $514,497, so only 22% of the Foundation expenses went to scholarships. To get an idea of the benefits students get from that amount of scholarship money, it will buy only 17 full tuition and fees scholarships.

During the 2010-11 school year, the last year for President Counts, the Foundation paid out $222,140 in scholarship money, total expenses was $391,547, so 57% of expenses went to scholarships. Scholarship money for this year was the equivalent of 62 tuition and fee scholarships.

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Editor's Note

The Grant County Beat endeavors to post to the Elections page, under News, at the least, notices of candidates for Grant County races. Some candidates for statewide races have also sent their notices. 

The Beat continues to bring you new columnists.Recent additions  include the Christian Corner, for those who are already Christians or are exploring the beliefs.

The second is a business-centered column—Your Business Connection by the New Mexico Business Coalition. The group works to make policy in the state of New Mexico better for all businesses, large and small.

The Beat has a column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues. The first one posted is on Winterizing your houseplants and patio plants.

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