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We can make government work

My wife and I were born and raised in New Mexico, and we are grateful every day to have the opportunity to raise a family in our home state. I left to study finance at Notre Dame and then worked in many of our country’s most vibrant cities as well as in Cambodia.

During that time, I developed a strong belief that one of the most significant differences between prosperous communities and those that struggle is an effective, transparent and accountable government.

As a state senator, I have worked to challenge the status quo by proposing hundreds of bills designed to fix broken government, put our tax dollars to work and level the playing field for working families.

Adding qualifications to the Public Regulation Commission, restructuring the State Investment Council and strengthening the local contracting preference are a few examples of legislation I’ve sponsored into law to move our state forward.

Elected into Senate leadership as the majority whip, I demonstrated the ability to lead with my values and maintain a strong record of bipartisanship, co-sponsoring the most legislation with the opposing party.

As your next auditor, I plan to help New Mexico make better choices at all levels of government.

Whenever public money is at stake, the auditor can be an advocate to prevent waste, deter corruption and safeguard our tax dollars by ensuring that public money is spent in the most transparent, effective and accountable manner.

Constitutionally, the auditor has financial oversight responsibilities for more than 900 public entities including all counties, schools, agencies, universities, acequia associations and more. With more than $10 billion annually spent by these entities, the use of their funds becomes critical to our economy and the well-being of communities around the state.

The auditor also plays a role in helping every New Mexican get a fair shake from their government and helping communities and businesses cut through needless bureaucracy and red tape. The auditor is the only independently elected watchdog for the accountability and effectiveness of public programs and consequently, plays a critical “think tank” role for policy evaluation and government reform.

Ensuring a prosperous future for New Mexico requires action on the biggest challenges we face. To get there, it is going to take better choices.

Better choices to keep education dollars in the classroom instead of sending them to out-of-state, for-profit corporations for the overtesting of our children. Better choices to stop the reckless dismantling of our behavioral health system.

Better choices to bring unaudited entities into compliance with the law. Better choices to prevent government unfairness and conflicts of interest when it comes to contracting with local businesses.

As auditor, I aim to systematically assess the use of out-of-state contractors by agencies, cities and schools to highlight the potential for the creation of new local jobs. I will also proactively examine the estimated $900 million of unspent money “sitting on the sidelines” in cash balances, excess bonding capacity and unfilled positions.

I will evaluate opportunities to utilize these funds for critical services, infrastructure projects, “big idea” education changes and sound economic development. Similarly, I plan to evaluate the billions of dollars our state gives away in special-interest tax breaks to gauge their effectiveness in creating jobs and helping all New Mexicans.

With your help, I know we can make better choices that raise the bar, face our challenges head on, push big ideas forward, challenge the status quo and, most importantly, that help New Mexico realize its full potential.