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2023 Legislature Punts on Education reform

By Paul J. Gessing

In October of last year, results for the Nation's Report Card (NAEP) placed New Mexico dead-last in education among all states, the District of Columbia, and DoD schools. The test covered reading for 4th and 8th graders and math for the same age groups. New Mexico was last across all categories. These results should have been a wakeup call for Gov. Lujan Grisham and the Legislature.

Bold solutions are needed and there's no time like a 60-day session to enact big reforms. Unfortunately, as the legislative session hurtles onward, neither serious education reform nor prevention of future mistakes like those made during the COVID pandemic are likely to come to pass.

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Better School Board Practices Lead to Better Schools

By Fred Nathan, Executive Director, Think New Mexico

School boards are an often-undervalued piece of the puzzle in improving New Mexico's public schools. They play a critically important role in setting the tone, culture, and expectations for the schools they oversee.

Last year, Think New Mexico published a report titled: A Roadmap for Rethinking Public Education in New Mexico, which proposed a sweeping ten-point plan with 30 separate legislative recommendations to improve the performance of New Mexico's public schools. One of those planks highlighted research demonstrating that local school boards can positively impact the learning environment when they are focused on elevating student achievement.

House Bill 325 is based on the proposals in our report. It is sponsored by Representative Natalie Figueroa (D-Albuquerque), a high school teacher, and Representative Gail Armstrong (R-Magdalena), a former school board member.

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What an eye-opening "workshop"

This writer/editor was asked to attend a flooding disaster (spelled—on the agenda as deisaster, which should have given me a clue) workshop.

I have long realized how insane our governmental bureaucracies have become. They are huge, with a lot of the personnel, not only in the same agency, but often across multiple agencies doing duplicative jobs, with one thinking the other is doing the work, when the reality is nobody is doing it. So multiple rules and regulations arise because someone somewhere dropped the ball.

And we the taxpayers suffer from this male bovine pile of manure.

The purpose of the workshop was to show the irrigators how to access "funding" to repair (and don't do improvements or you won't get reimbursed) their destroyed ditch infrastructure. "And be sure to call us for help." Why now, why not seven months ago?

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Sec. Haaland's potenial conflict of interest?

The Rio Grande Foundation is among the large number of entities concerned by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland's lack of knowledge about basic environmental issues and her broader qualifications to perform the role of Interior Secretary.

Recently, the federal watchdog group Protect the People's Trust released documents obtained from the Department of the Interior that reveal alarming connections between organizers of a violent protest in 2021 and Secretary Haaland. On October 14, 2021, a protest was staged at Interior headquarters as part of a week of anti-fossil fuel activism in Washington, D.C. called People vs. Fossil Fuels. Events featured rallies of indigenous people from New Mexico opposed to leasing near the Chaco Culture National Historical Site. Organizers also planned civil disobedience actions in front of the White House, Capitol Building, and other locations in the city.

Events got out of hand, as planned, at Interior. Protesters breached the agency building, handcuffed themselves in place, and staged an unruly sit in. When security personnel from multiple federal agencies who'd been on alert all week attempted to remove the protesters, things turned violent. As a result, multiple police officers were injured, one was sent to the hospital, and 55 protesters were arrested.

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Op-Ed Joanne Ferrary (D-37) Soft on Crime

 With crime running rampant across the state of New Mexico, and indeed, the entire United States, you would think our Democratic Colleagues would want to pass bills that strengthened our Police Forces and punished offenders. One law that has been on the books for Two Thousand Years is "You shall not Steal."

Joanne Ferrary, head of the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee has stalled multiple bills that would have enhanced law enforcements efforts to curtail crime. She has stalled bills that would increase penalties for possession of fentanyl, expand the State's definition for violent felonies, and would grant immunity from litigation, or tort claims related to "alleged" damages, or injury, for merchants who apprehend shoplifters.

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Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury votes against House Resolution 11

Does New Mexico have a real Representative in Melanie Stansbury, or do we have someone that kowtows to and is under the thumb of the Democratic Leadership in Washington?

House Resolution 11, which creates a Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States of America and the Chinese Communist Party earned an emphatic "NAY" from Representative Stansbury when the Resolution came up for a vote. A resounding "NAY" was also heard from Representative Stansbury when H.R. 22, which would prohibit the release of petroleum products from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and the sale of those products to ANY entity owned or controlled by the People's Republic of China, was put on the floor for a vote.

With information that Representative Stansbury must have at her disposal, she should realize what a danger the Chinese Communist Regime poses to the security, and prosperity of the United States. She must realize that the oil we produce and strategically store is for emergency purposes for use in the defense of the United States of America or to supplement our own needs.

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A Decade In, LFC Medicaid Report Highlights Program Failures

By Paul J. Gessing

In December the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) published a report on New Mexico's Medicaid program. Whether by design or accident, the report happened to coincide with the 10th anniversary of New Mexico's Medicaid expansion. Then-Gov. Susana Martinez decided to accept the "ObamaCare" expansion dollars which, at the time, was 100% federally funded.

The LFC report is full of great information, but it doesn't attempt to assess whether Medicaid expansion was worthwhile. Unfortunately, when it comes to government programs (especially here in New Mexico) increased spending and good intentions are not often followed by thoughtful assessment of whether the spending has achieved stated goals. Even less common are analyses of whether the new program itself was cost-effective in achieving those goals.

The media covered the LFC's report which focused mostly on difficulties the Committee's "secret shoppers" had in making appointments with doctors for Medicaid patients. For example, the LFC found that only 15 percent were able to make an appointment with a primary care doctor. Other doctors were not accepting patients, failed to return phone calls, or were no longer at that phone number. These findings highlight an important problem with Medicaid: having "coverage" (especially from a government welfare program) doesn't mean you have access to medical care.

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