The legislative session can feel all-consuming for those of us inside the Roundhouse. But like most New Mexicans, you have likely spent the last 60 days focused on making sure your families were healthy and safe – core values I carried with me every time I stepped onto the floor of the House.
You have placed your trust in us as your representatives to consider the nuances of our state’s tax system, our more than $9 billion budget, and the best policies to promote health, wellbeing and opportunity for all New Mexicans.
So as the dust settles on this year’s session, an important part of our job as lawmakers is to communicate what we accomplished and how it will impact you. As your speaker of the House, my hope is that our last two months of work will make life easier for your family now and lay the groundwork for transformational change in the future.
That starts with our bipartisan state budget, which uses our unprecedented revenues to invest wisely in the needs of New Mexicans today and tomorrow while securing historic levels of reserves to ensure we can withstand a rainy day. We made big investments in our students, schools and teachers, from early childhood to higher education, so kids of all ages from across our state can get the quality education they deserve. To address climate change, we also invested in environmental regulation and our just transition to clean energy.
To protect the safety of our communities, we took a holistic approach, investing a record amount in behavioral health while making sure our law enforcement officers and criminal justice system have the resources they need to combat crime now. We took important steps to reduce gun violence with a safe storage law to protect kids from tragic accidents and a bill to close the straw purchase loophole, so that those who are not legally allowed to have guns cannot get them on the black market.
Our bipartisan tax reform package will offer needed financial relief to New Mexicans now by lowering personal income and gross receipts taxes, increasing the Child Income Tax Credit for working families and providing income tax rebates for all. It will also further long-term goals by funding drug and alcohol treatment, making clean energy more affordable for everyday New Mexicans and supporting the growth of our economy.
And while other state legislatures rolled back fundamental freedoms, New Mexico passed critical bills to protect them. The New Mexico Voting Rights Act will enhance the security of our elections and ensure all those who are eligible can exercise their constitutional right to vote. House Bill 7 and Senate Bill 13 will safeguard access to life-saving gender-affirming and reproductive health care for all New Mexicans and make sure our state remains a safe place for all who seek and provide that care.
To be sure, not everything that we were rooting for crossed the finish line this time, but we are not deterred. Some of our most important legislative victories – like our transformational investments in early childhood education – took time and tenacity to become reality. My colleagues and I will continue fighting for policies that benefit working families, improve the safety of our kids and communities and protect your fundamental rights.