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Editorial

Editorial content.

Today, Memorial Day 2017, Americans need to understand exactly what is happening in the world and especially in America right before our eyes.

Millions of Americans have fought and died and continue to do so to protect the America that was founded on the U.S. Constitution. That their sacrifice must not have been in vain every American must read and understand this link by Michele Malkin and especially the COMMENTS SECTION by our own retired Border Patrol Officer John Slagle.

There is no force greater in a free society than the truth and that is being cleverly concealed with the obvious purpose of fundamentally transforming America.

This is a fight to be won by American Citizens at home in support of our military. We must not fail them.

Zack Taylor, Chairman and Border Security Expert
National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers

Dear Editor,

I appreciated the opportunity given to me to attend the community forum sponsored by Commissioners Billy Billings and Alicia Edwards regarding the Gila Regional Cancer Center (GRCC), and the process in which Gila Regional Medical Center (GRMC) is engaged to keep cancer services in the community. One of the key issues prevailing in a majority of the presentations at the May 16, 2017 forum was the high quality compassionate care that New Mexico Cancer Center (NMCC) caregivers provide each GRCC patient and families that they serve. This is not an issue and never has been an issue. In fact, the GRMC Board is in favor of the current staff remaining at the GRCC after conclusion of the current agreement, including Karen DeGenevieve and Michael Torres. In addition, GRMC will also consider hiring the staff to support cancer services if GRMC and UNMCCC cannot reach an agreement. However, Dr. Willman, UNMCCC, CEO, does not think this will be a problem as long as there aren't any hurdles with the current staff's employment relationship with Dr. McAneny's group or with any NMCC staff hired by UNM following UNM standards.

I feel I need to address another item that was presented by either a patient or supporter. In Commissioner Billing's opening remarks he laid out the "rules" for the presentations. The presenter in question made some remarks regarding Holley Hudgins and didn't say what the issue was. She merely gave Mrs. Hudgins salary and made inference that Mrs. Hudgins was provided employment at GRMC because she is Representative Rudy Martinez's spouse. I believe this was against the "rules" and the presenter should've been admonished by Commissioner Billings for not following the rules. I failed in not jumping up and calling a point of order. Shame on me!

Mrs. Hudgins was a GRMC caregiver long before her marriage to Representative Martinez. I understand she did an excellent job as the Marketing Director. Mrs. Hudgins requested to be given the opportunity to manage and direct the GRMC Cardiology Clinic and was also given the task of acting as the liaison with the NMCC. In addition, one of the tasks given to me by the Board of Trustees was to do a top to bottom review of staff in all departments. Mrs. Hudgins position was reviewed and I determined it was required for the continued success of the clinics assigned to her.

Sincerely,

Alfredo Ontiveros
Chief Executive Officer (Interim)

Funding for New Mexico's colleges and universities, which was vetoed by the governor following this year's regular legislative session, will soon be restored, ending the confusion and consternation that has bedeviled students and faculty for months. The Legislature, which will either restore funding for higher education in the special session or win in court to overturn the governor's veto of its funding, will return its attention to creating jobs and repairing New Mexico's ailing economy.

As a retired college president and, before that, a public school superintendent, I understand the problems our colleges and universities are facing with absolutely no funding as of July 1. Students are reconsidering plans to enroll; professors, instructors and support staff have no assurance that they will have jobs after July 1; and the reputation of New Mexico's higher education system suffers across the country.

The only good news is that the Legislature is committed to restoring funding for our colleges and universities - without any strings attached.

The governor's demand that comprehensive tax reform be approved before funding for higher education is restored is neither prudent nor possible. There is virtually no disagreement that tax reform is necessary, but to do it in a matter of a few days without any reliable data on the likely or even possible effects it will have months from now would be irresponsible. We must proceed cautiously, remembering that predicted outcomes of some past tax reform efforts proved completely wrong, and seek reforms that stabilize the state's revenue streams to ensure that essential public services - education, public safety and health programs - continue uninterrupted.

We will consider, and should approve, several tax measures to modernize our system and close loopholes. Chief among those is the internet sales tax loophole that puts our community stores at a disadvantage when selling the same goods as online retailers. Although legislation to close this loophole was vetoed during the regular session, there is reason to believe that the governor will look more favorably upon it now.

There is more disagreement, deservedly so, surrounding other tax proposals. Reimposing the "food tax", which the governor has said she is open to considering, should be rejected. Every New Mexican would pay the food tax, and it would hurt middle-class and lower-income New Mexicans because a greater percentage of their income each month goes to pay for groceries.

Taxing nonprofit hospitals at the same rate as their for-profit competitors could be considered, but we must look carefully at the effect that would have on rural health care clinics, where many of the most economically vulnerable New Mexicans receive care. There's a reason we tax nonprofit hospitals and clinics differently than for-profit hospitals, and we should not change that policy quickly. We cannot afford to lose medical, dental and behavioral health services, as well as the jobs that go along with providing those services, in our rural areas.

Last year alone, 343,000 New Mexicans received care at nonprofit primary care clinics. Their voices need to be heard as we debate this issue.

Reforming our tax system cannot be done quickly and without legitimate data on the effects of changes. Tax reform will be an appropriate topic for the next regular session, which is only seven months away.

Instead, we can restore funding for our colleges and universities with commonsense tax reform (closing the internet sales tax loophole) and sweeping and diverting other state funds, including money earmarked for legislative retirement, to the state's General Fund.

The special session is a great opportunity to work together to improve our economy without burdening taxpayers. We are seeing early signs of an improving economy. We must take advantage of that to restore funding for our colleges and universities, rebuild the state's cash reserves and work to create jobs in New Mexico.

We are public servants, and we should always focus on the benefit for all New Mexicans.

Live from Silver City

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