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Martinez, allies threaten education, economic future

New Mexico is grappling with serious budget shortfalls, and we all know there’s no easy solution. There are some things that should be off the table, to name one: vetoing higher education funding. But the governor decided that wasn’t the case. What’s even more concerning is silence from Republican elected officials.

Why hasn’t Lt. Gov. John Sanchez voiced an opinion on this detrimental move that hurts New Mexico students and hinders colleges and universities’ ability to educate our future workforce? Where does the House Minority Leader Nate Gentry stand on the governor’s veto? Why haven’t the educators in the Republican caucus pointed out how damaging this move is to our students?

Democrats worked with Republicans … to deliver a balanced, responsible budget and revenue package that would stop cuts to school districts, shore up cash reserves to improve our state’s economic footing and invest in our communities. The governor rejected that package and instead vetoed all state funding for higher education.

Now, the governor claims she “put aside” higher education funding. … (as) New Mexico colleges and universities are struggling to plan for the next school year.

And as a student, I know my classmates and I are wondering if our classes will be available next semester. It takes long-term planning to make sure we have the classes needed (and) higher education institutions can expand opportunities…. Students, colleges and universities don’t have the luxury of putting aside higher education.

Just recently, Hulu, the popular streaming network, passed on expanding in Albuquerque because our workforce was not large enough. Yet our Republican governor, just days before, gutted the institutions that prepare New Mexicans for new jobs. We still haven’t heard from elected Republicans about the issue. UNM is a major economic driver in Albuquerque, yet Republican Mayor Richard Berry hasn’t said a word about how this reckless decision affects Albuquerque’s ability to compete.

We did, however, see Republicans stand with Gov. Martinez to defend their cuts-only approach and avoid answering serious questions about the consequences their agenda has forced on our state. Pew Charitable Trusts did an analysis of our state’s reserves, and the outlook is bleak. After six years of a Republican executive exacerbated by two years of a Republican-controlled state House, we have the lowest cash reserves since 2000 – mean(ing) New Mexico’s faith and credit is at risk, having already been downgraded under Republican leadership.

Democrats are ready to fix the mess the governor made and get to work immediately to restore higher education funding so students and our economy can get back on track. House Republicans have a responsibility to New Mexicans to work with Democrats and fix this … ASAP.

From school districts having to cut programs and lay off teachers and the Motor Vehicle Division limiting operating hours, to students not being able to achieve their higher education goals and state workers not being able to provide for their families – all consequences of the failed Republican economic agenda.

The governor and her Republican colleagues may not have to bear the burden of their decisions, but everyday New Mexicans do. That should be reason enough for Republicans to change their tune and do the right thing. …

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