Oct. 24, 2016
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Morning Word: State Budget Fix Likely in September

August 19, 2016, 7:30 am
Special Session Likely in September
It’s looking like Gov. Susana Martinez will call lawmakers into special session in September to deal with a massive budget shortfall that amounts to $635 million over two years. Let’s hope they don’t cut backroom deals before they get there. The public has the right to provide input before legislators start cutting programs.

Bishops Oppose Reinstating Death Penalty
The governor’s call to reinstate the death penalty is getting mixed reviews, but our little online (and unscientific) poll shows that Twitter followers oppose the idea by a wide margin. As expected, the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops is renouncing the idea, saying the state’s life without parole option renders violent predators harmless.

Student Scores Up; Still Not Good
It looks like New Mexico students are doing better on the PARCC tests, but only a third of them are ranked proficient.
The Santa Fe district’s test results were below New Mexico averages: 27.7 percent of students statewide passed their English tests and just under 20 percent achieved proficiency in math. Both state averages are up this year, compared with scores on New Mexico’s inaugural PARCC exams in 2015.
At least the district is continuing its Digital Learn Plan program and 2,500 students will be getting laptop computers to assist their studies.

Special Oversight at HSD Approved
The Associated Press reports, “A federal judge has agreed to the appointment of a court-appointed 'special master' to help ensure federally funded benefits are administered properly by the New Mexico Human Services Department, amid internal investigations by state and federal agencies into allegations that food aid applications were falsified.”

Auditor Reports on Rape Kit Backlog
We’re finally getting a better idea why it takes so long to process rape kits in New Mexico.
State Auditor Tim Keller on Thursday told a panel of lawmakers that officers’ discretion and the lack of structured policies on sexual assault investigations in New Mexico police departments are the main reasons the state has 5,400 untested rape kits, some of which date to 1988.
Survey: A Quarter of UNM Students Sexually Harassed
Meanwhile, a quarter of students at the University of New Mexico report they’ve been sexually harassed at least once in the past year; 11 percent of women say they’ve been forced to have sex, according to a new study.

Cannabis Laws Need to be ‘Untangled’ 
After a federal judge dismissed a Deming man’s request to carry his medical cannabis with him across the US-Mexico border without interference from US Border Patrol agents, the editors at the Las Cruces Sun News say it’s time to “untangle” conflicts between federal and state statutes that allow for the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana. 


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