This year, Think New Mexico has an even more ambitious legislative agenda than usual. Here are brief summaries of the bills we are working on, with links to our Action Center so you can contact your legislators and the governor about any of these issues:
- Maximizing dollars to the classroom: we drafted and are advocating for House Bill 77. This bill would limit the growth of school district central administrative spending to no faster than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or the overall growth in the state education budget, whichever is lower, allowing more money to reach the classroom. Read more about it , and contact the governor!
- Making the infrastructure funding process transparent: we are supporting House Bill 262 and Senate Bill 144, both of which would require disclosure of the sponsors of appropriations for public works projects. This is one of the last pieces of the legislative process that is still conducted behind closed doors. Learn more about this issue.
- Restoring funding to the Strategic Water Reserve: House Bill 281 and Senate Bill 277 would restore $5 million in funding to the Strategic Water Reserve, an innovative water management tool that Think New Mexico led the effort to create in 2005. Read more about it and contact your the governor!
- Funding the creation of an All-Payer Claims Database: five years ago, we led a successful effort to create a health care transparency website. The website launched last year, but in order for it to include information about the average prices paid by people who are covered by individual or employer-based insurance policies, New Mexico needs to create an All-Payer Claims Database (APCD), similar to those in place in fifteen other states. Learn more and email the governor to sign the funding that was included in the budget!
- Maximizing dollars for lottery scholarships: we are supporting Senate Bill 80, and House Bill 441, both of which would transfer unclaimed prize money ($2-3 million a year) to the scholarship fund. We initially opposed Senate Bill 283, which would repeal the law guaranteeing 30% of lottery revenues to students, but we have worked with the sponsor to add amendments that protect the interests of students. We are opposing Senate Bill 598, which would repeal the 30% guarantee without including any protections for students. Learn more about these bills.
- Fighting the food tax: finally, we are opposing any legislation that reimposes the food tax, including Senate Bills 421, 584, and 585. Learn more about this issue here.
KRQE News 13 investigative reporter Larry Barker has released a riveting new report on the secret process by which legislators appropriate hundreds of millions of dollars to infrastructure projects every year.
As the report highlights, this is one of the last pieces of the legislative process that is conducted behind closed doors.
We are supporting Senate Bill 144 and House Bill 262 to bring transparency to New Mexico’s process for funding public works projects. Learn more about these bills and ask your legislators and the governor to support them!
A new analysis by Think New Mexico found that in 61 of New Mexico’s 89 school districts, administrative spending grew faster than classroom spending over the past decade. Similarly, administrative spending grew faster than classroom spending in 50 out of 89 charter schools for which data was available.
Statewide, New Mexico’s classroom spending grew by an average of 1.5% a year between 2006 and 2017. By contrast, administrative spending grew by an average of 2.1% a year over the same time period.
During the 2019 legislative session, Think New Mexico is advocating for House Bill 77, which would limit the annual growth of school district central administrative spending to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or the overall growth in the state education budget, whichever is lower. Classroom spending would not be limited. So, for example, if the governor and legislature were to pass a budget that increased overall education spending by 12%, and the CPI were 2%, school district and charter school administrative spending would be capped at 2% and all the rest of the new money would go to the classroom.
Read Think New Mexico’s full news release, and download the explanatory memo, classroom and administrative spending growth rates for school districts, for charter schools, and statewide (please email us if you would like the full Excel sheet of all data). You can also contact your legislators and the governor and encourage them to support House Bill 77.
Looking for the perfect holiday gift? Check out Think New Mexico’s new online store at Threadless, where you can find shirts, mugs, cell phone cases, water bottles, stickers, bags and more! Wear your support for nonpartisan public policy reform on your sleeve, and share it with your friends.
You can also make a donation to Think New Mexico in honor of a loved one. We will send them an acknowledgement letter and list them in our annual report, and we have a gift card you can print out for them as well.
In 2018, New Mexico took a first step toward making health care prices more transparent with the launch of a website, nmhealthcarecompare.com, where anyone can find the average prices paid by Medicaid for nine common, non-emergency procedures at each of the state’s 44 hospitals. The website, which was created as a result of legislation that Think New Mexico drafted and advocated for, also includes quality metrics for the hospitals, such as 30-day readmission rates and patient ratings.
Now it is time to take the next step: adding the average prices paid by New Mexicans who are covered by individual or employer-provided insurance policies. A growing number of other states, including our neighbors in Colorado and Utah, are pulling back the veil on health care prices by creating All-Payer Claims Databases (APCDs), which collect information on the prices paid for health care by all payers and allow those states to provide information about the average costs of care for people with different types of insurance.
During the 2019 legislative session, Think New Mexico will be advocating for New Mexico to create an APCD to make health care prices more transparent and empower New Mexicans to find the most affordable, highest quality health care. Read our guest editorial and learn more about this initiative!
While the recent Yazzie/Martinez v. State of New Mexico decision has understandably received intense interest for its landmark ruling that New Mexico’s public schools are not adequately funded, there has been less attention on another, equally important aspect of the ruling: the finding that more money will only make a difference for students if it is spent in the classroom.
Read Think New Mexico’s recent opinion editorial about how and why we must make sure that every additional dollar appropriated in response to the Yazzie decision is spent in the classroom!
Read all about the latest progress on our efforts to maximize dollars to the classroom, fight the food tax, increase funding for lottery scholarships and much more in Think New Mexico’s latest annual report! Click here to download the annual report.
We are delighted to be joined this summer by Mitchel Latimer, a Roswell native majoring in Political Science and Economics at the University of Denver; EmmaLia Mariner, who grew up in Albuquerque and is studying Politics and Law and Society at Oberlin College; Elena Purcell, an Albuquerque native and a senior at Wellesley majoring in Economics and Spanish; and Neel Roy, who grew up in Albuquerque and is now a rising senior at Texas Tech University! Mitchel and EmmaLia are working with us June-July, and Elena and Neel will be here July-August.
In 2005, Think New Mexico won passage of legislation creating a Strategic Water Reserve, a pool of publicly-held water rights dedicated to keeping New Mexico’s rivers flowing to avoid lawsuits over endangered species and interstate compacts. With the current drought and Texas’ lawsuit against New Mexico over the lower Rio Grande, we need this water management tool now more than ever – yet its effectiveness has been hampered by a lack of funding.
Read about how the Strategic Water Reserve can benefit New Mexico communities in our recent opinion editorial and learn more about this ongoing initiative.
In the wake of several school shootings, New Mexico lawmakers included $40 million for improving school safety in this year’s state budget, to pay for security features like metal detectors, surveillance cameras, and bulletproof windows.
Think New Mexico encourages lawmakers to also consider what they might do about a surprising and often overlooked factor in school shootings: they are disproportionately concentrated in large schools. Read our op-ed about how smaller schools tend to be safer and learn more about our small schools initiative.