Gov. Susana Martinez’s office has responded to a national report that listed New Mexico as the nation’s worst-run state government by highlighting her administration’s ongoing efforts to improve the state’s education system and economy.
The annual rankings are compiled by 24/7 Wall St., an organization that provides financial news for several national media outlets. They are based on states’ unemployment and poverty rates, among other factors.
The report knocked New Mexico for its high poverty rate and net population decline over a recent four-year period, but did not cite the state’s sizable cash reserves – of more than $600 million – and recent solvency legislation aimed at the state’s public retirement systems.
Martinez spokesman Michael Lonergan pointed out that a different national publication, Site Selection magazine, published an article that asserted “companies are taking notice” of recent New Mexico tax policy changes.
“The governor is working to reform and improve education, because it is the key to lift people and their families out of poverty,” Lonergan said. “And we are working to make our economy less dependent on the dysfunction in Washington, D.C., by attracting more job creators and creating more private sector employment. She encourages all those who have simply embraced the decadeslong failed status quo to choose reform instead.”
The 24/7 Wall St. report, which the Democratic Party of New Mexico used to blast the Martinez administration, found North Dakota to be the nation’s best-run state government. Illinois was ranked as the second-worst, behind New Mexico.
CHALLENGER: State Rep. Idalia Lechuga-Tena, an Albuquerque Democrat, was sworn into the Legislature less than a month ago, but already has a primary election challenger for 2016.
Debbie Sariñana, a math teacher at Manzano High School, said last week that she plans to seek the Democratic Party nomination for the House District 21 seat that Lechuga-Tena was appointed to on Nov. 10.
Sariñana said this week that education and crime issues would be among her top priorities. She specifically mentioned concerns with the state’s 2012 teacher evaluation system, saying, “There is a lot wrong with it.”
Sariñana’s campaign is being managed by Neri Holguin, who has helped several progressive Democrats win election to the Legislature and ran Alan Webber’s unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign in 2014.
Lechuga-Tena was appointed to the seat by the Bernalillo County Commission. Sariñana had also applied for the vacancy, created when former Rep. Stephanie Maez resigned from office after her son was arrested on a murder charge.
HD 21 is a Democratic-leaning district that covers much of Albuquerque’s Southeast Heights. Next year’s primary election will be held June 7.
Dan Boyd: firstname.lastname@example.org