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NM again ranked as worst-run by 24/7 Wall St.

For the second consecutive year, New Mexico is ranked the worst-run state in the nation by 24/7 Wall St., a financial news and commentary website that does rankings on a variety of issues.

deborah_baker_sigIt takes into account financial health and fiscal responsibility, as well as social and economic factors such as unemployment, poverty and crime.

The organization cited the shortfalls in New Mexico’s budget this year and last year, and the fact that Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the state’s credit rating for general obligation bonds and designated its rating outlook as “negative.”

But 24/7 Wall St. also noted that Moody’s said New Mexico has a strong history of balancing its budget, and that the state’s debt levels are manageable and on the decline.

Also in the mix: The state’s poor high school graduation rate, the more than 20 percent of New Mexicans who live in poverty, and the struggling labor market. The state had the highest October jobless rate of all states; unemployment was at 6.7 percent.

The organization said the massive decline in global oil prices has taken a serious toll on states’ oil revenues, but that governments “need to prepare for the worst, including the collapse of a vital industry.”

A spokesman for Gov. Susana Martinez said the oil and gas crash has led to thousands of job losses. Martinez “has worked since Day One to diversify our economy and create jobs in the private sector” to reduce reliance on one or two industries, Michael Lonergan said.

He also said that to break the cycle of poverty, schools must be improved, and the governor will “continue fighting for reforms that challenge the decades-long failed status quo.”

Female legislators: Women will make up just under one-fourth of state lawmakers nationwide next year, while New Mexico will do a little better, at nearly 30 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

All told, there will be 33 women in the 112-member New Mexico Legislature in 2017 – 26 in the House and seven in the Senate.

That’s a gain of four women over this year – the total fell to 29 after Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort, R-Sandia Park, resigned at the end of July – but still not a record.

The historical high for New Mexico was 36 women in 2001, according to records compiled by the Legislative Council Service.

New Mexico’s 26 percent-female Legislature this year gave it a ranking of 19th among the states, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says for 2017, Vermont leads the states, with more than 39 percent of its legislative seats held by women. Wyoming will have the lowest percentage of women, just over 11 percent.

Deborah Baker: