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Past 8 years have set the state up for success

It’s been an honor to serve as lieutenant governor. A lot of good things have happened since 2011.

When I took office, one of my first duties was to preside over the N.M. Senate. Ten years earlier, I had defeated Sen. Raymond Sanchez, D-Albuquerque, in a hotly contested House race. In 2011, his brother, Sen. Michael Sanchez, was the majority leader of the Senate. There was anticipation fireworks would fly. I went to Sen. Sanchez’s office and laid out the case for what we could accomplish if we worked together. He listened and agreed. We worked together to run the best Senate floor possible. Early on, statesmanship won over personal and political gamesmanship.

Eight years later, I experienced one of the most humbling and gratifying moments of my political career as all 42 senators stood one by one for over two hours and honored me with a memorial for my service as the president of the N.M. Senate. It is, to my knowledge, an unprecedented moment in New Mexico Senate politics and certainly an extraordinary moment for me personally.

New Mexico is on an upward trajectory. As I prepare to leave office, I would like to reflect on how far we’ve come.

Currently, we are the third-largest producer of gas and oil in the United States. This industry contributes over one-third of the state government budget. I am proud of the work we did to ease tax and regulatory burdens while protecting the environment. I have been a strong proponent of alternative energy development in our state. In 2017, New Mexico added wind power capacity at a faster rate than any other state.

Wineries, dairy plants, food processing and digital component manufacturing are all thriving.

This is due largely to the New Mexico Jobs Package that went into effect in 2013, dropping the corporate income tax rate to 5.9 percent and eliminating the double tax matrix for manufacturers.

The aerospace/aviation industry now boasts over 48,000 jobs, generates $1.3 billion in payroll annually and contributes $3.1 billion to our economy. I served as the chairman of the National Aerospace States Association to promote New Mexico’s interests in this industry.

The film industry is growing thanks to targeted tax credits. Between 2014 and 2017, the amount of direct, in-state production spending increased from $162 million to $506 million. I have strongly supported this industry.

I “internationalized” my office, serving as an ambassador for our state. I traveled the globe and hosted more than 40 foreign dignitaries and diplomats here in New Mexico. International trade is now bringing $3.6 billion into our state’s economy and providing nearly 14,000 jobs. My staff and I have traveled nearly a million miles representing New Mexico.

Jobs and opportunity are what New Mexicans need. I have served on the Innovate ABQ board bringing economic development to our state. According to the Albuquerque Journal, employment in Albuquerque rose 2.8 percent in October. The paper stated “the preliminary figure of 403,500 jobs for the metropolitan area is the highest since such records started being kept in 1999.”

I’ve made numerous trips to the Pentagon to grow the defense investment in our state. At this time, New Mexico is in a prime position to permanently bed down the F-16 training mission at Holloman Air Force Base, which will lead to a $5 billion boost to our economy.

Facebook has built a data center in Los Lunas and continues to hire, while Netflix has announced its plan to buy studios in Albuquerque, agreeing to spend $1 billion on film production in New Mexico in the first 10 years. Netflix is expected to create 1,000 jobs.

I’m proud of our achievements during the past eight years. Unlike the conditions we inherited, current economic growth will give the next administration over a $1 billion surplus. I encourage the new regime not to waste this. I pray they will not raid the Land Grant Permanent Fund, which needs to grow to fund critical services in the future.

I am optimistic for New Mexico’s future, and mine. I consider myself a better New Mexican and American because of my time serving as your lieutenant governor. May God bless each and every one of you.