NEWS FROM THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday delivered her second annual State of the State address, launching the second session of the 54th New Mexico Legislature with a speech underscoring the need for sustained investment in programs that meet the needs of workers and families, outlining bold expansions of New Mexico’s educational and economic horizons.
Delivering an impassioned pitch that emphasized the priorities of New Mexico children, workers and families, the governor highlighted the state’s successes over the course of 2019, including rapid private-sector job growth, unprecedented investments in public education and educator support systems, and pivotal transformations in environmental leadership, roadway infrastructure and state government services, among many others.
The governor identified key areas of emphasis over the forthcoming 30-day legislative session, among them:
- Crafting a strategic and sustainable budget that rebuilds state agencies’ capacity to deliver services to New Mexicans and incorporates significant savings for a future rainy day (the governor’s executive recommendation includes putting 25% of “new money” into the state’s reserves)
- Investing in game-changing early childhood programs through the new Early Childhood Education and Care Department and the Early Childhood Trust Fund.
- Delivering tuition-free higher education to New Mexico residents by restoring the original promise of the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship with the “last-dollar” Opportunity Scholarship
- Implementing new measures that will enhance public safety in New Mexico, including a request, in the executive budget recommendation, for 60 new State Police officers
- Establishing a new fund for senior services; providing equitable and much-needed reform for the state’s public pension system that protects taxpayers and retirees; and more.
The prepared text of the governor’s 2020 State of the State address is as follows:
Thank you. Mr. Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Speaker, Madam Pro Tem, honorable legislators, distinguished guests, my friends, the first Manny, my daughter Erin, my granddaughter Avery, Avery’s other grandmother Sandy Reiger, my sister-in-law, the Honorable Sandra Grisham, my brother Gregory Lujan, everybody who isn’t watching the impeachment trial on C-SPAN, and my fellow New Mexicans:
This past year I heard from many members of our extended New Mexico family. Students wrote letters. Parents came to my office. I met advocates and entrepreneurs as we traveled across the state — from Carlsbad and Silver City to the Navajo Nation and beyond. New faces and old friends. Police officers, veterans, educators and business-owners. Over and over, I heard two things.
One: Do you really drink that much coffee? No comment — but also, yes.
Second, time and again, New Mexicans told me: Keep going.
The state of our state is dynamic, ready for more, on the cusp of steady and sustainable progress. We are stronger today than we were one year ago — no question. Fifteen-thousand new jobs in New Mexico since the day I took office, the best year for job growth in the state since 2005. Our economy is booming in every direction: Long-time New Mexico businesses are boosting their investments in our state. Exciting new companies are putting down roots here for the first time, choosing to be in the Land of Enchantment. We are top ten nationally for inbound moves, a complete reversal from only a few years ago, when families were leaving our state — and one third of the people moving to New Mexico are coming here for jobs.
Since the day I took office, we are #8 nationally for job growth. I like the sound of top 10, and I like the sound of this even better: Our private-sector job growth is beating Nevada, California and Colorado. As I said a hundred times this year, in every community I visited across our state: New Mexico is the place to be, and if you’re not here, you better get here fast.
At the close of Year One, at the outset of Year Two, state government is stronger and gathering strength. Our December statewide rapid-hire events drew 3,700 job-seekers – that’s 3,700 New Mexicans eager for work, eager to serve their communities and neighbors right now. Together we delivered meaningful raises for New Mexico educators passionate about their students. We launched pivotal transformations in environmental leadership and in long-overdue infrastructure. Our Children, Youth and Families Department this year cut the average wait time on its Child Abuse Hotline from an unconscionable hour-plus to less than five minutes. Our Human Services Department settled with each of the behavioral health providers ejected from the state by the Martinez administration, a monumental step toward the robust and rebuilt behavioral health system New Mexico urgently needs. Our Workforce Solutions Department has gone after wage theft, standing up for workers against bad actors who are violating the law and taking advantage of them. Our Corrections Department successfully took over management of the private prison in Clayton, overseeing a safe and seamless transition into better administration. We settled the Jackson and Duran litigations, ending cases that have lasted decades and cost the state tens of millions of dollars. We took the initiative on building up our state’s reserves for a future rainy day. We made sure we have an equitable framework for reforming our state pension system in a way that protects New Mexico taxpayers and respects retirees, both current and future. We boosted common-sense oversight of polluters; and we put New Mexico on a direct path to being the nation’s clean energy leader, ensuring our land, air and water — our inheritance as residents of this incredible state — are passed on to future generations. We brought industry and environmental leaders together, and we are moving forward on creating nation-leading rules that will curb methane pollution, create jobs and deliver more dollars into New Mexico classrooms. We took on the Trump administration when they abandoned border communities, when they tried to gain access to our workforce data so they could deport working parents and tear families apart. With your help, we will keep up those efforts, those good fights — and we will keep investing for a bright tomorrow while delivering solutions to the urgent needs of today.
We are fixing what was left broken and addressing urgent needs and turning the corner into the bright future of our incredible state — all at once.
Year One: I’d call it a very, very good start. Thank you, honorable legislators, even Debbie Armstrong — thank you all for your support and leadership in helping us capitalize on the incredible opportunity of this moment.
But, as you know, we’ve still got a lot of work to do. For one thing: We still haven’t shortened all these podiums, they’re too tall! That was the first thing I said we had to do!
In all seriousness: We accomplished so very much in one year, and yet the economic growth we’ve seen has not touched families in every part of the state. We have not yet completed the diversification and expansion efforts we must undertake to ensure New Mexico’s prosperity is durable and meaningful. The educational transformation that’s begun to take shape is still in the first few innings. So, no, I did not hear New Mexicans telling me, “great, job done” — I heard them say, “great, keep going.”
And we are building something substantial and sweeping and powerful — for the generations to come and for New Mexicans right now. We are investing for tomorrow and delivering today. We must continue to do both — aggressively, strategically, with fiscal responsibility top of mind.
In equal measure, I am proud of the distance we have covered, eager for the chance to do more right now, and perfectly aware of the climb we still have to make.
As we open this 30-day session, I challenge you to think beyond the 30 days. Think beyond even this year. We stand together in the sunrise of a new decade. What we do here in this session, in this coming year, will set the course for what comes over the horizon in 2030 and beyond. The progress begins right here in this room and on the other side of the building — the accomplishments of lawmakers present and past, including those beloved friends and colleagues we lost this year, Representative Bill Pratt, Senator Carlos Cisneros, Senator John Pinto. It’s important to reflect on their many contributions to our state and what each of them, in their own way, delivered for their constituents and all of New Mexico. If we can take a quiet moment to remember them:
Thank you. Over this next year and in this coming decade, how will we work together to make New Mexico the state of success? The power to answer the call forcefully is in our hands, in our willingness and capacity to be relentless and bold, right now.
We begin where we must: Education. It would be inaccurate to say we chose education as our top priority. Transforming our public education ecosystem is no less than a moral mandate, an imperative that found us, this group of legislative leaders who are obligated and, I believe, destined to deliver the single best cradle-to-career educational system in the country.
I insist, alongside every devoted parent and dedicated advocate in the state, that we get it right, right now. And at the same time I recognize that what we are building requires long-term vision. We all must recognize that a genuine transformation, a moonshot, doesn’t occur overnight. But our goal is and will continue to be meaningful positive outcomes for students and teachers all while the permanent turnaround rounds into shape.
So we must continue to build. We’ve got to invest and deliver. We’ve got to pay educators more and we’ve got to hire more educators. And we are on our way: In Year One, we cut the statewide teacher vacancy rate by 13 percent – proof positive that the message has been received: After 8 years of neglect and disrespect, New Mexico values and supports its world-class educators once again. And we will keep going in a way that’s sustainable and real. We will, together, deliver another raise for educators and school personnel this year, the most significant back-to-back raises educators have received in almost 15 years. In our first two years, we will have provided a 10 percent across-the-board raise for our educators — as compared to only 6% total over the eight years before that. Once again: Education was not a priority then. It is now.
And we will keep going; we will stay the course with new programs that require a sustained focus, like extended learning time and K-5 Plus. Let’s think about what those programs represent: More meaningful time in the classroom for our at-risk students, more time for them to learn, create and build relationships. And we know there’s a direct line between that and higher achievement. With the Public Education Department working alongside districts around the state, we estimate, next year, more than half of New Mexico’s K-12 student body taking part in extended learning programs; we estimate almost 5,000 teachers participating in K-5 Plus – teachers in the top tier taking home almost $70,000 a year.
And we will, this year, expand our axis of emphasis to include early childhood education and care, comprehensively changing the trajectory for the youngest kids in this state, forever.
Child care, pre-k, home visiting, family nutrition, early intervention services and more – we will connect New Mexico parents with the high-quality services they need to help them both cut costs in their home budgets and provide the best possible head start for their children.
With your support, last year, we launched the Early Childhood Education and Care Department, a monument to our belief in what our kids and families can achieve. With that new department, together, we opened the door to a new day for early childhood outcomes in New Mexico.
We must now walk through that door and invest in learning opportunities and care networks that will make a difference for New Mexico children and families.
We all want better outcomes for our kids and families — but it seems we sometimes hesitate when it comes time to really provide for their future. We have the opportunity this year to do that. With the Early Childhood Trust Fund, we can establish a positive, dynamic and self-fulfilling cycle of improved outcomes for our children and families. The seeds we sow in early childhood investment right now, this year, will sustain generations to come.
We have committed to transforming the lives and opportunities of New Mexico children and families; we believe in the unequivocal data that show the pathway begins at the earliest age; we accept that every unacceptable statistic about New Mexico’s education system stems from a lack of comprehensive opportunity for our earliest learners … so this is the moment to step up. This is the moment to stand and be counted as part of the single most comprehensive effort to transform early childhood outcomes of any state in the country.
As long as we’re talking about leading the nation: New Mexico was the first to guarantee higher education for all. We were the first state to provide college tuition for residents. The Lottery Scholarship was ahead of its time; now, we as a state have fallen behind. We have back-slid into an environment where college-age students in New Mexico wonder not where they’ll attend college but whether they will at all, where adults who want to go back to school face a financial roadblock to new skills and fulfilling new careers. And we know we’re selling these New Mexicans short — maybe not as short as me, but pretty dang short. We know if young adults don’t find opportunity here, they will look elsewhere.
But if we build it, they will stay. This year, we can round out our world-class cradle-to-career educational philosophy with a comprehensive embrace of universal higher education: The Opportunity Scholarship. It is a prudent, sustainable investment in the bridge we must build between our classrooms and our workforce. We have the power to make tuition-free higher education a reality, benefiting an astounding 55,000 New Mexico students this fall. Students want it; parents want it; let’s give them the opportunity. An opportunity that works for Estevan, studying education at the Santa Fe Community College. I want Estevan to be a teacher right here in New Mexico. An opportunity that works for Yawana, a sophomore nursing student at UNM. I want Yawana to be a nurse right here in this state, where we need her. An opportunity that works for Michelle, a senior at New Mexico Tech double-majoring in electrical engineering and mathematics. I want Michelle to put those degrees to work and build her career right here in New Mexico.
We should all want students like Estevan and Yawana and Michelle — and the many, many talented young adults in the gallery right now and watching at home — to find their passion here, to build their careers here, in New Mexico. And I want them to know they can do it without debt hanging over them for years. We should all be doing everything we can to make student tuition debt a thing of the past. Otherwise, we’re limiting what our young adults can do and who they can become. I would much rather invest in unlocking their unlimited potential. I’m confident we will. And confidence breeds confidence. Every part of this touches every other. When we move aggressively to increase wages, invest in our public education system and think outside the box about what our state economy and workforce can be, jobs and careers will follow. These students will stay and work here. We are transforming New Mexico into a place workers and growing businesses want to be. A place with stable, fulfilling employment, with opportunities to grow and raise a family.
We are rapidly climbing out of the lost decade of job growth, the stagnation and forced austerity of the last administration. The minimum wage is on the way up for the first time in more than a decade, benefiting 100,000 New Mexico workers. We set a record for film and television shoots, 94 productions pumping nearly $600 million into our economy – with more productions in rural communities under our new rural production incentive. My Economic Development Department is making record investments in homegrown businesses all across the state — creating more jobs and creating better-paying jobs. And I mean all across the state: I’m talking about C4 Farms, a 4th generation ranch in Rio Arriba County, where our state contribution will help them develop a processing plant and butcher shop that will serve hunters who currently take their game to Colorado. I’m talking about 420 Valley, a manufacturing start-up in Las Cruces that extracts CBD oil from hemp plants and will expand to almost 60 employees over the next 3 years. I’m talking about Duane Kinsley, the founder of Sport Systems, an Albuquerque outdoor equipment store. Duane has launched Best Deal Retailer, a start-up enterprise that has developed technology to help brick-and-mortar New Mexico retailers keep their local shoppers by beating giant online retailers. Duane is here today – thank you Duane for believing in and representing the power of local economic development, hiring New Mexicans and helping New Mexico businesses compete.
As outlined in my budget proposal, we will build on the record Local Economic Development and Job Training Incentive funding we delivered throughout New Mexico in Year One. Thank you for your support for these essential programs: The local jobs we created last year paid 20% better than over the last 8 years. Manufacturing jobs, IT jobs, engineering and tourism and outdoor recreation jobs — we’re creating pathways into these careers; we’re getting New Mexicans the skills they need to succeed.
Because we all want an economy that is stronger than one industry — no matter how strong that industry is today. We’ve got to create more opportunity in rural communities, on main streets all through our state — and so we’ve got to consider every single good idea. A perfect example is cannabis.
This is the fact: Recreational cannabis can be the next frontier of our economic expansion. We can get in on the ground floor or we can try to play catch up — I know which one I prefer. And I know which one New Mexicans prefer: 75 percent of New Mexico supports the legalization of adult-use cannabis, including strong support in rural areas.
For years now, the Legislature has heard and debated recreational cannabis proposals; we’ve watched states come before us, we’ve watched them stumble in some areas, thrive in others … and every year we’ve said, “No, not yet, it’s not for us.” Well, it’s easy to get to “no.” It’s harder to stand up and create something good and new. And we’re ready for that. These 30 days are the final stages, not the starting point. My legalization working group – a team of experts and advocates, experienced stakeholders from every corner of the industry, law enforcement from rural and urban areas alike and more – built upon the conversations the Legislature has had in past years. They visited communities all across the state last year. They solicited candid community input from parents and providers and coaches and police officers; they laid out a vision of a New Mexico where we use every tool in our economic toolbelt, strategically adopting best practices from the states that have come before us, creating a thriving and safe new industry employing thousands of New Mexicans and delivering hundreds of millions in revenue back to cities and counties and the state for public safety and health care. Three of every four New Mexicans want to realize the awesome economic potential of this industry, and I agree with the overwhelming majority of our state: I say we ought to give them the chance. It’s high time we stopped holding ourselves and our economy back: Let’s get it done this year and give New Mexicans yet another reason, yet another opportunity, to stay here and work and build a fulfilling 21st century career.
Progress is not preordained. We have to have the vision to identify productive next steps while keeping an eye on the longer path, the distances farther ahead. This past year we stood up to protect New Mexicans from pernicious federal efforts to dismantle health care services. With your support, we enacted safeguards against attempts to roll back the Affordable Care Act and strip New Mexicans of the health care lifelines they depend on. But unfortunately that’s not enough. We, as a state, have to keep fighting to ensure health care as affordable, high-quality and accessible as it can possibly be. And this year, with your support, we can move aggressively to reduce health care costs — including drug costs — for New Mexico families. With your support for Senate Bill 1, the state will pursue the importation of wholesale prescription drugs from Canada, cutting costs for New Mexico families. And we will begin to cap co-pays and out-of-pocket costs for patients with chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma and COPD. With your support, we can invest in the essential work of rebuilding a robust behavioral health network, providing a lifeline to New Mexico families that have been devastated by drugs, violence, poverty and more. Those are investments in independence, in personal freedom, in people’s capacity to help themselves.
New Mexico seniors deserve that chance, too. Every single senior wants to be independent and self-sufficient as long as possible. Right now, my mother Sonja is in a primary care clinic, without my brother and me, being treated for an infection that threatens hospitalization. My mother is a strong and stubborn woman — and she’s going it alone so my brother and I can be here with you today. I remember when my father was dying — and in spite of my mother’s strong independence, she, in fact, relied heavily on my father. After his death, my mother and I both knew she really couldn’t live alone. We began the painful effort of moving her into my home with me. And I remember taking the last box of her personal belongings and loading them into my car. What I had in that small box was the last vestige of my mother’s independence, and the only life she had really ever known. I vowed then — and I do again today — to restore for seniors and disabled adults and their caregivers the respect, the services and the dignity that they deserve.
The Kiki Saavedra Senior Dignity Fund that I have proposed is designed to do just that — to provide for the dignity and support seniors and caregivers need.
Kiki Saavedra understood the necessity of getting that right. I remember him telling me, before every one of my appropriation requests for senior citizens would go before his committee, “Michelle, if you really care about funding these services for seniors, do not bring a thousand senior citizens into this hearing room. We don’t have time. I’ve got other committees. Do not do it.” So, I did it, and he would give me that look — like, “You were my hita, I don’t know what you are to me now.” But you know what? He’d be there. He’d stay until every single person was heard. He’d walk around the room, he’d ask who drove the farthest, who had the oldest car — he would make the effort to give every single person in that room the time and care and attention they deserved.
The Kiki Saavedra Senior Dignity Fund is an investment in our capacity to provide that kind of respect. Kiki Saavedra understood that we are judged not by our personal success but what we do for others. In this session we can deliver for New Mexico seniors and make this game-changing fund a reality.
But as we worked last year to improve the health and welfare of New Mexicans, others were working to deprive them of both. I’m talking about the criminal violence that is far too prevalent in our great state. Let’s all agree that the days of hardened, violent, repeat offenders not doing any real time, getting unwarranted second and third and fourth chances because our system is too broken to hold people accountable … those days must end and they must end now. We have to draw a line. New Mexicans are sick and tired of seeing predators circle in and out of custody, never facing the full force of the law. I am too. Here’s the fact: Dangerous, repeat offenders have got to be in jail. If you are terrorizing our communities again and again, we have nothing to talk about: You must be stopped and held accountable.
We have a chance in this session to come together as a state and put together the best practices, to be smart and tough on crime. Everybody – every policymaker, at every level of government – has to be on board. This year we launched, as a state, the Fugitive Apprehension Unit; we sent state police officers to help support local police efforts in Albuquerque, in Valencia County, in Alamogordo and down on the border. And under my budget proposal we will fund 60 new State Police officers and better pay for new recruits. We’ll give them the time and support they need to make meaningful connections with the communities they serve all across New Mexico — and to keep them safe.
I’m also proposing stiffer penalties for gun- and drug- and human-trafficking to keep the purveyors of those particular kinds of evil off our streets longer.
One of my staff members had to leave work early one day this fall to pick up her daughter, who was deeply shaken after her school was placed on lockdown following a threat of mass violence. Think of all our children, our friends and neighbors whose lives and livelihoods have been disrupted by lockdowns or evacuations. That’s criminal, and this session, we’re going after people who terrorize New Mexicans with threats of mass violence.
If we are clear about keeping New Mexico families safe, we have to commit to accepting responsibility and giving law enforcement the tools they need — to give New Mexicans the peace of mind they deserve. We have to create public safety, consciously and proactively and persistently, every day. Together, beginning this session, we will win this fight, and justice will be done in New Mexico.
In these next 30 days, I will be who you know me to be. Relentless. Competitive. Caffeinated. I will be tireless on behalf of the New Mexicans who have not yet felt the effect of our changing fortunes, our push toward steady and sustainable progress. New Mexicans like Tiffanie Collins, a single mother in Grants. Her daughter turns 12 next month. Tiffanie works two jobs to provide for her daughter — and it’s just barely enough. She feels the strain every day — working extra time, relying on family to help care for her daughter. Tiffanie went to UNM to obtain her bachelor’s and dropped out after a few semesters because she couldn’t afford tuition. What she wants is opportunity to get ahead where she lives, in Grants, a chance to thrive and make a better life right there, a chance to get her daughter into high-quality after-school programming and get gainful, fulfilling employment so she doesn’t have to worry about the next bill, and the next bill, and the unexpected bill, maybe a medical expense, that puts everything over the edge. Tiffanie made the sacrifice to take time out of her schedule to be here today, and I want to recognize her as the kind of New Mexican who is doing absolutely everything right — working hard, being a good mom, getting into a program where she’s learning coding skills, trying to get the kind of education and training that will help her provide for her family. We have got to make sure Tiffanie’s efforts are supported by our efforts. We’ve got to make school more affordable; we’ve got to provide jobs right where she is, not 100 miles or a couple states away; we’ve got to invest in our educators and improve our schools so she can sleep at night knowing her daughter has the best possible chance to succeed. Tiffanie’s here today because she believes in us — and also to tell us to keep going. Because we have to do better, all of us, so New Mexicans like Tiffanie are never left behind.
I urge you to join me in sustaining the investments we have made in the future that New Mexico families, students and workers deserve. I invite you to join me in bringing into reality the bright vision of the best possible New Mexico of 2020, 2030, 2040, a future where our youngest get the best possible head start, where students and educators have every reason to stay here and build their lives, where small businesses can thrive with a strong and dynamic workforce at the ready, where our economy includes everyone and every good idea, where New Mexicans live and thrive in safety. Together, we will keep investing for tomorrow and delivering today. We will keep going. Forward, every day, together. Thank you, and let’s get to work.