Morning Word

State Economists Forecast $2.5 Billion Revenue Boom

Santa Fe County seeks election workers heading into the Nov. 8 general election

NM forecasts nearly $2.5 billion in new revenue

State economists yesterday released new financial estimates that project $2.45 billion in new revenue for New Mexico for the fiscal year starting in July 2023. Legislative Finance Committee economists say preliminary reports show recurring revenues for the 2022 fiscal year reached $9.2 billion, a 14% increase from the prior fiscal year. That revenue strength, they say, comes as a result of sustained high inflation, which raises expectations for gross receipts tax and income tax collections. Moreover, economists said in a briefing, “consumer spending has remained strong, wage growth has been robust, and high oil and gas revenues are supported by global supply-side constraints raising prices and encouraging production expansion.” Oil and gas revenue strength, they say, is pushing severance tax and federal royalty collections higher above their five-year averages. The report also indicates New Mexico’s economy will experience slower than national economic growth in the near term but will gain ground with relatively faster growth in 2023. “The state’s economic outlook is similarly tied to inflation, monetary policy, and other broader economic mechanisms as the national outlook,” a briefing says. Lawmakers learned of the revenue bonanza during LFC meetings being held in Chama through tomorrow. State Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, says the new funds could “change the complete path of this state,” while Finance and Administration Secretary Debbie Romero advised caution about increasing budgets, given the likelihood that such growth won’t be sustainable for the long-term. And Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said, in a statement, “the record high revenues we are anticipating are no accident—they are a direct result of responsible fiscal policy on the part of this administration and the healthy economic climate we are fostering.”

Election officials ISO poll workers

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver put out a call for poll workers for the upcoming Nov. 8 general election (Aug. 16 was “Help America Vote Day”). In turn, SFR discussed election work opportunities for residents (these are paid positions) with Santa Fe County Clerk Katharine Clark, who says the county has a variety of needs. “Election duties have expanded so much,” Clark said, “we need more than just those who work the polls.” Those jobs include helping in advance of the election by answering questions at the clerk’s office and work on post-election duties such as canvassing. Experience not required, she said. “We really do like first timers,” she said. “You may not be thrown in the deep end and become a presiding judge…but we can always use beginners.”

While Santa Fe County has not experienced the level of election-worker harassment Toulouse Oliver has reported at the state level, Clark says her office will likely provide both de-escalation and active shooting training for poll workers, and she will have an emergency plan in place at each polling location. To apply for election work, fill out an online application here. Positions also are available for under-18 student poll workers (with parents’ permission). “It’s a great way to serve your community,” Clark says. “Democracy doesn’t happen if we don’t have the bodies to make sure that there are many eyes on the democratic process and making sure it’s transparent.”

Study: Suicides spiked among Hispanics in the last decade

A new national study co-authored by New Mexico State University Professor of Public Health Sciences Jagdish Khubchandani found suicides among Hispanic adults between the ages of 20 to 64 increased by more than 70% between 2010 and 2020, while their population grew by about 25% over the same period. New Mexico had the second highest suicide rate for the population in the study. Khubchandani describes the escalation of suicides as “a major and disproportionate escalation given the increase in the size of the population versus the increase in suicide rates,” in a news release announcing the new study, which he co-authored with James H. Price, professor emeritus in the School of Population Health at the University of Toledo. To understand the suicide trends among non-elderly Hispanic adults in the US, the researchers analyzed a decade of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mortality data. Among other data points, the study found Colorado had the highest suicide rate for the study population at 25.52 per 100,000 people; New Mexico had the second highest rate at 23.99 per 100,000 people; and Texas, which had more suicides in the study population than any other state in 2020, had a much lower rate at 11.97 per 100,000 people.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Aug. 17

New cases: 735; 604,185 total cases

Deaths: 13; Santa Fe County has had 334 total deaths; there have been 8,334 fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 158. Patients on ventilators: nine

Case rates: According to the state health department’s most recent report on geographical trends for the seven-day period of Aug. 8-14, Santa Fe County’s case rate continues to decline and was at 26.3, compared with 34 the prior week. The state recorded 4,500 total cases statewide—based on reported cases—over the seven-day period, a nearly 15% decrease from the previous week.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent update for COVID-19 “community levels”—which updates each Thursday for the prior seven-day period using a framework that combines case rates with hospital metrics—12 counties have green or low levels and 11 have “red” or high levels. Santa Fe County remains “yellow” or medium. The community levels site has accompanying recommendations at the bottom of the page. The CDC also provides a quarantine and isolation calculator.

Resources: Vaccine registration; Booster registration Free at-home rapid antigen tests; Self-report a positive COVID-19 test result to the health department; COVID-19 treatment info: oral treatments Paxlovid (age 12+) and Molnupiravir (age 18+); and monoclonal antibody treatments. Toolkit for immunocompromised individuals. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453. Vaccines for children: Parents of children ages 6 months to 5 years can now schedule appointments for vaccinations at

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Listen up

Have thoughts on how the City of Santa Fe should proceed with homeless encampments? Want to hear other folks’ thoughts? The City of Santa Fe announced yesterday it will host a round-table town hall discussion with community partners, service providers and members of the unsheltered community to present the current initiatives and solicit ideas and feedback. The event, at 5:30 pm, Tuesday, Aug. 30, will include dinner and requires registration by 4 pm, Wednesday, Aug. 24. Register in advance by emailing or calling (505) 955-6520.

Move over, Netflix

Southern New Mexico will become home to the state’s third major film and production company—joining Netflix and NBC Universal—in the near future. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced yesterday that California-based 828 Productions plans to invest $75 million over the next six years to build a 300,000-square-foot studio and 20-acre back lot. In May, the company purchased a 7,500-square foot office building in downtown Las Cruces for training, post-production and visual effects work. In turn, the state will pledge $3 million from the Local Economic Development Act job creation fund; the company intends to create at least 100 “high-paying” jobs, according to a news release. “We were looking for a home for 828 Studios and fell in love with Las Cruces,” Todd Lundbohm, founder and CEO of 828 Productions, said in a statement. “This is a town on the rise, with a wealth of opportunity just waiting to be tapped into…For us, it’s about putting down roots, and New Mexico, specifically Las Cruces, gives us the ideal place to do that.” 828′s recent films include: Helen’s Dead, Those Who Walk Away, The Last Son and SXSW Grand Jury Prize winner The Fallout, to name a few.

Come for the science, stay for the hot springs

While summer travel stories have begun to ebb along with the extra daylight minutes, New Mexico continues to draw praise for its bounty regardless of the season. The Travel recommends several spots in the state for a two-week American Southwest road trip “bucket list,” including stops in Albuquerque, the Lincoln National Forest and Las Cruces, with specific recommendations for Albuquerque’s National Museum of Nuclear Science and History; the Grindstone Lake Loop in the Lincoln Forest; and the Dripping Springs Natural Area in Las Cruces. The Travel also lists Taos in its round-up of the top 10 vacation spots to book this Fall. “September and October are the best times of year to visit Taos, New Mexico,” the magazine writes, “because the scorching summer temperatures have petered out and so have the tourist crowds.” And US News and World Report includes two New Mexico locales in its 25 “top family weekend getaways.” Once again, Albuquerque wins praise: “Pueblo-style jewelry; Hispanic art; and dozens of breweries, wineries and distilleries make Albuquerque a multicultural destination that families with young adults will especially love,” the story notes. And Truth or Consequences also receives a shout-out as a place where “teens can develop lifelong healthy habits on a budget wellness getaway” via “deep soaks in the town’s famed healing waters paired with health-conscious dining.”

Rain check

Once again, Santa Fe could see scattered showers and thunderstorms today, mainly after noon on an otherwise partly sunny day with a high near 81 degrees. The National Weather Service forecasts the chances for precipitation at about 40% today and 20% this evening.

Thanks for reading! In July, The Word has mixed feelings (excitement and fear, primarily) about tech companies resurrecting extinct animals.

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