Merritt Hamilton Allen, whose work is published previously in the Edgewood Independent, will also provide her columns to the Grant County Beat. 

Money changes everything. Except child outcomes in New Mexico.

Since 2020, New Mexico has had a permanent fund for early childhood education and care. It is called the Early Childhood Education and Care Fund. Started with $300 million, it has already reached $2 billion in two years.

But that was not enough for early childhood "advocates." No. In what will only be the tip of the iceberg for raiding our state's primary permanent fund, Constitutional Amendment 1 passed overwhelmingly to allow the Legislature to raid the state permanent fund for early childhood (voters, what were you thinking?!).

This is in addition to record regular distributions from the permanent fund, and a 450% increase in early childhood spending over the last decade.

Read more ...

New Mexico: A state without a mandate

Four years later, I think most New Mexicans would say they are not better off, if not worse. 

Yet, it wasn’t enough to elect a single Republican to statewide office or yield a net gain in the state legislature.

Democrats aren’t delivering yet Republicans can’t win. What gives?

A failure to listen to voters. Professional politicians more focused on polls and photo ops than governance and leadership. Political consultants who treat the political cycle merely as a jobs program with little thought to outcome or results. In short, a cast of characters in it for power and money leaving the performance of the state in a distant second place.

Dysfunction.

Voters just narrowly rewarded a governor who failed to deliver on her “education moonshot,” somehow managed to make CYFD worse, while spending oil and gas revenues as fast as she disparaged the industry. If a gubernatorial election could result in an attendance award, ours did.

Read more ...

Pay attention to the Attorney General's race

Election 2022 is winding down and the news is mostly full of the gubernatorial race between Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and challenger Mark Ronchetti and the freshly gerrymandered 2nd Congressional District matchup between Congresswoman Yvette Herrell and Las Cruces City Councilman Gabe Vasquez.

These two races are where the money and the advertising are going and it's hard to avoid them on television or online. I want to call your attention to another race that will have a major impact on our state: Attorney General.

After a Democratic primary that looked like two Republicans duking it out for their "tough on crime" stance, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez came out the winner, backed by powerful party machines. He faces Republican newcomer Jeremy Gay, a Gallup attorney and Marine Reservist Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer.

Read more ...

Fossil Fuel Now . . . and in the Future

Crude oil and natural gas are hot topics these days, and rightly so. They are major components of New Mexico's economy, and a major source of New Mexico's government revenues. According to a May 2021 Legislative Finance Committee report, oil and gas revenues generate about 25-30% of the State's annual general fund. The report notes this percentage fluctuates depending on economic conditions and the health of the energy industry, but there is no dispute that the energy industry makes a significant contribution to the annual State budget.

Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, and OPEC's recent decision to cut global oil production are also hot topics. Both are causing the price of gas to rise again. It is understandable, to me, to cut off Russian oil because Russian oil is literal blood money. Those Russian missiles raining down on Kyiv, killing civilians indiscriminately, are paid for by oil revenue. The Saudi Arabian engineered OPEC production cuts are less understandable, but it does not take a rocket scientist to see it does not help the typical American gas buyer. The Saudis know this; it seems they are purposefully giving a pocketbook-damaging middle finger to the US, and in so doing helping the civilian-killing Russian autocrat.

Read more ...

Congress must act on immigration. But it won't.

Judges and governors and executive orders are shaping immigration policy in our country right now. Meanwhile last week, the Border Patrol reported its 2,000,000th arrest along the Mexican border for the fiscal year ending September 30. We have a labor shortage in America, people are risking their lives to come here and work, yet we haven't had a significant change in our guest worker laws in decades.

Where is Congress?

Immigration has changed in the last decade, shaped by global turmoil. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration Statistics FY 2020 Enforcement Lifecycle report, encounters on the southwestern border surged in 2019, soaring to nearly 980,000 from 523,000 in 2018. Why?

Families. Entire families seeking asylum fleeing Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. And children. Children sent unaccompanied. This created a very different situation from the typical traffic of single adults from Mexico seen in previous years.

Read more ...

It's hard to fail-safe any policy in the face of complete shamelessness

The state Senate is staying in the news, and the events of the last week have political junkies grabbing their popcorn to watch the drama.

I wrote last week about the lack of transparency in the legislative ethics investigative process. But really, it all boils down to this: the accuser is under a gag order and cannot say anything about the case once a complaint is submitted, while the accused can say whatever they like.

In this case, accused serial sexual harasser Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto keeps talking.

Read more ...

The Legislature's anti-harassment policy is clouded in secrecy

Remember the sexual harassment complaint filed against Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto, Senate Rules Committee Chairman, earlier this year? You probably haven't heard much about it.

Because that's how the system is set up.

In February, a lobbyist filed a complaint against Ivey-Soto, citing events in 2015 and 2022. This complaint was followed by an open letter published from the lobbyist, and another open letter from eight nonprofits, which outlined eight additional incidents citing harassing behavior toward women from the senator.

Read more ...

Taking back the narrative in the governor's race

Lots of interesting prediction and poll numbers have come out in recent days for the November elections. Prospects for Republicans taking the Senate are wobbling. The gains in the House may not be as large. New Mexico Congressional Districts 1 and 3 appear to be shoo-ins for the Democratic incumbents, and CD2 is a virtual dead heat (the last due to bizarre redistricting).

What happened to the Republican momentum? There are two major factors. The first is that in states where Trump-backed primary candidates were successful, they have an uphill climb in the general election. Extremists do not do well with independent voters.

The second shaping factor is the overturning of Roe v. Wade earlier this summer by the Supreme Court. Women are registering to vote in record numbers and previously safe pro-life candidates are vulnerable.

Read more ...

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