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I’m young, ambitious and I’ve got to leave NM

Last month I told my friends and family that I would be moving to Texas at the end of the week, and the question I got asked the most is “Why?”

Well, to put it simply, I’m leaving because I don’t see very many real opportunities in New Mexico for someone like me. I’m 24, career oriented, and I want to make a real change in the world and in my community but I also want to grow myself to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be. After many long nights, I’ve come to realize that in order to do just that, my time in New Mexico must come to an end.

I love New Mexico. My family roots can be traced in this land all the way to the 1500s and beyond. The food, the culture and the beauty of this state will be missed incredibly. But at some point, we all have to ask ourselves: is food, culture and beauty worth sacrificing the opportunity to succeed? Is it worth passing the opportunity to advance myself, professionally and personally?

Young, productive people in this state are leaving in droves. I can’t tell you how many of my friends have left New Mexico in search of better opportunities. Those who haven’t left are waiting for their chance to do so. Texas, Colorado, Washington, Louisiana, Arizona, Utah and Florida are all reaping the rewards of productive, often young, New Mexicans moving to their states to advance their careers, start a family and buy a home. New Mexico cannot expect to compete in this country by pushing more burdensome laws and creating more barriers to people’s success.

When legislators who’ve been in elected office for longer than I’ve been alive propose the same regressive and tired ideas like an increased gas tax or a hike in the income tax, I lose a little hope for the future of New Mexico. Add the fact that our new governor will likely sign off on most, if not all, of these taxes, regulations and barriers, and I can’t really see our state making any real progress. Taxing our citizens will not lead us to prosperity.

This isn’t an issue of partisan politics. It’s safe to say that Colorado is a blue state. It’s where I grew up, and it’s a neighbor to New Mexico. Just like most of our neighboring states, it kicks our butt in nearly every category. The politicians in Colorado realize that individual success begins with people having a means to be successful, a JOB. Businesses flock to Colorado, and it seems like another 1,000 jobs are headed to Texas every week. New Mexico is falling seriously behind. We’re the only state in our region that isn’t rapidly gaining population, and we’re the only state in our region who hasn’t yet recovered from the Great Recession. If it wasn’t for the oil and gas industry continuously pulling our economy out of the gutter, we’d be in a much, much worse place.

I have sacrificed countless hours trying to help change this state for the better. I have given everything I’ve got to help push New Mexico in a new direction, but it seems like our elected leaders choose to keep the status quo. Many people across this state have joined me in trying to make New Mexico a better place. They have given their weekends, holidays and have sacrificed time that could be spent with families in order to be right there with me, fighting for our state’s future. I’m forever grateful to those of you who took that time to open your minds and realize that our state is in serious trouble and have taken action to (try to) save it.

I love New Mexico. I hope to return to this beautiful state some day in the future. But in order to advance myself, I have to say goodbye to the Land of Enchantment, and hello to The Lone Star State.

Michael A. Aguilar, a UNM graduate and former state chair of the College Republicans, moved from New Mexico last month.

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