e've got spring fever and 12th-graders have senioritis. Can something be done to keep the state's most talented youth from leaving home for good? We begin the last week of March with mixed economic news.
It's Monday, March 30, 2015
New Mexico continues to rank ahead of Mississippi, Kentucky and Alabama as the state most dependent on federal government spending. Two national labs and a slew of bases account for most of it, but so does the state's high poverty rate.
The increase in poverty is another sign that New Mexico's middle class is shrinking faster than in other states.
Another signal is the state's ever-present brain drain. Students in Carlsbad, for instance, love growing up there, but most say they don't plan to return after four years of college.
If you plan to join the other 1,300 or more New Mexicans ready to emigrate to another state for work, then you'll want to consider riding the rails. Amtrak has decided it will continue to roll through Northern New Mexico, with stops in Raton, Las Vegas and Lamy on its way to Albuquerque and on west to Los Angeles.
This ends more than two years of fear and uncertainty in Northern New Mexico’s smaller communities about whether Amtrak would alter the route and leave them without a stream of visitors with money to spend.
Amtrak had wanted officials in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico to ensure track maintenance. Even without a line in the state budget for direct repairs, New Mexico Transportation Secretary Tom Church says his group is “devising ways to pay for repairs in New Mexico.”
Winthrop Quigley rolled out a two-part series in the Albuquerque Journal
comparing how police officers in Tucson and Albuquerque respond to people suffering from mental illness.
Paul Hopkins, a veteran mental health counselor in Albuquerque and a member of the chamber’s mental health systems task force, said the key difference is that the Tucson area has a system with which to deliver mental health services and the Albuquerque area does not.
It’s an important series, considering that nearly a fifth of New Mexicans suffer from mental illness.
A passionate plea from New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Vigil to state lawmakers for more money worked. Legislators bumped funding up 2.8 percent, but now court administrators and public defenders have their fingers crossed the governor signs off on their $161 million budget allocation.
Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, and Bernalillo County Opioid Abuse Accountability Initiative Committee Co-Chairman Harris Silver also have their fingers crossed that the governor signs off on a measure that will allow the state jail and corrections officials to help get inmates signed up for Medicaid before they are released. That could prevent long gaps in behavioral and mental health care services.
The New Mexico attorney who sued the Albuquerque Journal
for libel in the early 1980s has died.
William Marchiondo was 87.
For the first time since 1975, the General Social Survey (GSS) has found that a majority—52 percent—of Americans support marijuana legalization. That’s a 9 percent jump since 2012.
A four-part newspaper series on the pitfalls of marijuana legalization in Colorado is getting panned by the Columbia Journalism Review
after details surfaced that Colorado Gazette
editors never disclosed the freelance reporter it hired to write “Clearing the Haze” was anti-pot from the get-go.
"The general public reading this will have no idea that Christine is extremely opposed to marijuana legalization and that she’s married to a doctor that has been one of the most vocal voices in this whole process warning of the potential unintended consequences of all this,” says Ricardo Baca, editor of the Denver Post’s marijuana news and culture blog The Cannabist.
Farmers around New Mexico, looking for a new cash crop that doesn't use a lot of water, hope that Gov. Susana Martinez takes US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s, R-Kentucky, lead and signs a bill that will allow New Mexico State University to import industrial hemp seeds and study the plant. But first she may need to bury the hatchet with the Democrat senator who sponsored the bill.
The Public Service Company's confidential plans to acquire a new source of coal for its 40-year-old San Juan plant has irked open government supporters and renewable energy advocates.