New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez's 2014 State of the State Speech
Lieutenant Governor; Senate President Pro Tempore; Mr. Speaker; Democratic and Republican leaders; esteemed members of the New Mexico Legislature; honorable members of the judiciary; former New Mexico governors; tribal governors; Senator Udall; Representative Lujan-Grisham; Representative Lujan; distinguished guests; the State’s first gentleman, my husband, Chuck Franco; my step-son, Carlo; my dear sister, Lettie Martinez; and, my fellow New Mexicans.
It is an honor to join you for the annual State of the State Address and open this legislative session, where I believe our focus must be on two of the most pressing issues – jobs and education.
But first, let’s turn our thoughts to the community of Roswell. As we recall last week’s tragic school shooting, let’s pray for Nathaniel, who’s struggling with serious injuries, and for his parents, who are showing such strength.
And when I saw Kendal last week, after having been through such horror she was in great pain but couldn’t wait to see her best friend, set to arrive at the hospital any minute. The parents, teachers, and community members pulled together and turned to faith over fear.
I have some very special guests with me today – John Masterson, the soccer coach and social studies teacher, whom we have come to know as a true hero.
When hundreds of kids needed someone’s help, his courage was on display in that gymnasium, and his humility has been on display since.
Kevin Hayes, a security guard, provided help and care to Nathaniel despite having been injured himself in the shooting.
No human being is gifted with the knowledge of why such tragedy occurs. But, we are thankful that in the face of it, people like both of you display the courage required to help all of us get through.
Thank you both so very much.
Today, I am proud to report that the fiscal position of state government remains strong and steady.
By working together over the past three years, not only did we close the largest structural deficit in state history, we are looking at our third straight year of budget surpluses.
We’ve doubled the size of our state savings account, and we did it all without raising taxes.
Republicans and Democrats can be proud of our firm fiscal footing. It is a far cry from where we were just three years ago.
We completely overhauled a near-bankrupt unemployment insurance system.
We reformed our state pension funds, resolving a $12 billion dollar shortfall while ensuring that state workers, police officers, teachers, and others will have the retirement support they deserve.
Education spending now exceeds pre-recession levels, with more accountability.
Not only have we not raised taxes on families and businesses, we have cut taxes 19 different times.
Less than one year ago, in a display of tremendous bipartisanship, we passed the most significant tax reform in a generation and sent the loudest message yet that New Mexico is striving to be a business-friendly state.
That message is critically important in a global economy.
We all know that businesses have choices, and they will locate and grow where they are treated fairly.
In 2011, Ernst and Young rated us third worst in our region for manufacturing. After our tax reforms, they came with another ranking just last week. Now, New Mexico is the best in the west.
But, more than words of praise, our reforms have helped create and protect jobs. Look at the economic development along the border.
By eliminating the tax on locomotive fuel early on, Union Pacific came to New Mexico. Then we eliminated the double and triple taxation of many goods and services.
Last session, we reduced the business tax rate to make us more competitive with our neighbors and to encourage manufacturing.
Southwest Steel Coil, from California, has added nearly 40 jobs in New Mexico, citing these reforms.
Omega Trucking, a woman and minority-owned business, also added more jobs.
That area developed because we first made our state competitive with Texas, and attracted Union Pacific. Then, last session, we made New Mexico more competitive with our other neighbors.
When we talk about our tax reforms, some only think of large corporations.
Don’t get me wrong, we want those jobs too, but our tax reforms are critical across the board to businesses large and small.
Let me give you an example.
Sparkle Maintenance is a janitorial business. It was started 50 years ago in New Mexico around a kitchen table, the way so many small businesses start.
Today, it employs 400 workers.
One of the owners, Carlo Lucero, recently approached Secretary Barela. He praised the state’s tax reforms because his customers – the companies he contracts with - have told him that our tax reforms have kept them in New Mexico.
I asked Carlo to join us today, and a very special lady. Carlo’s mother, Eleanor, co-founded the company with her husband around that kitchen table.
I wanted to recognize them, so we all remember the impact our reforms have on local small businesses.
Congratulations on all that your family business has achieved.
We’re doing better fighting the headwinds from Washington, but I’m the first to say that we have a lot of work left to do.
Being able to compete is not a destination, it’s a process.
Washington remains a mess.
The federal government remains deeply in debt, forcing federal budget cuts. Partisanship still rules the day, and the national economy is sluggish.
We cannot bank on that changing, not anytime soon.
We can, and we should, fight to protect the important work done by our labs and bases, but we should fight equally hard for a more diverse economy.
Seize upon the uniqueness of our state, the diversity of our people, our resources, and our backgrounds, to grow the private sector in every corner of New Mexico.
Diversity – it’s what sets us apart from every other state in the nation, and our economy should be no different.
Our charge this session is to build an economy as diverse as the state we are proud to call home.
Growing a diverse economy starts by helping small businesses, the mom-and-pop shops.
That’s why we created the Office of Business Advocacy: to help small businesses cut through the red tape. It has now helped save or create over 2,000 New Mexico jobs in all sorts of different industries and in towns large and small.
We invested in the MainStreet program, helping 100 small businesses get off the ground, and putting over 500 New Mexicans to work.
We invested over $2 million around the state to help rural industrial centers with infrastructure costs. Just look in Las Vegas at two small businesses – one is a meat processing facility called Martinez and Sons.
It is a family-owned business that our program helped grow. We also helped Inter-Galactica, a bakery, expand with a small capital grant.
These small businesses might not seem like a big deal to some, but they matter to that community. And, they matter to our economy, because 64 percent of new jobs are created by small businesses.
We must build on these efforts — not worry about whether they are Democrat ideas or Republican ideas.
That’s why I support Democratic Senate President Mary Kay Papen’s bill to create an online one-stop shop, a central location for small businesses where they can get permits and other assistance.
There is more help we can provide. Companies large and small must have access to a skilled workforce. That is why I am proposing that we make the Job Training Incentive Program permanent, so we can better partner with businesses hiring new workers, paying a large portion of their salaries while being trained.
In the last year, we have also announced 10 new early college high schools. By their nature, these schools are designed to produce employable workers - high school students, who intern with local businesses, graduate with a diploma, job-ready certificates, and an associate’s degree.
For those who want to go to college – they’re only two years away from a degree.
But college isn’t for everyone. For those who want to go to work instead, they’re ready and they already know the local industries.
So let’s fund a second round of early college high schools to create a workforce for local small businesses.
That’s what supporting a diverse economy is all about.
Starting a business and creating jobs involves risk. Successful economies embrace new ideas and encourage risk-takers.
New Mexico should be a technology jobs leader, a haven for innovation, a place where the best and brightest come to bring their products to the market.
Here’s how I propose we do it.
To increase the pipeline of innovation, $7.5 million to help our universities attract the best professors and researchers in the world.
Two million dollars so universities and labs can take their ground-breaking projects to the marketplace.
Expand the Angel Investment Credit to help start-ups get the capital they need to get off the ground. Provide greater incentives for every new technology job created in New Mexico.
This plan will help make New Mexico a technology jobs leader.
In addition to helping start-ups, now is the time to create new jobs within our health care industry - diverse jobs of all types, in urban and rural areas. We can hire more workers and improve access to quality health care for more New Mexicans.
I wasn’t a supporter of ObamaCare. But under its mandate we had a choice whether to expand Medicaid using federal funds. We chose to expand Medicaid because it was the right thing to do for New Mexico. Now, we have a responsibility and duty to expand our primary care workforce to meet these new demands.
Today, in 32 of 33 counties, we don’t have enough health care workers, and that’s before we attempt to add up to 205,000 more people to Medicaid.
We have taken some strong first steps toward creating more jobs in the health care industry, like training and educating more nurses by instituting a common statewide nursing curriculum.
Credits will transfer seamlessly between every college or university, and students can now earn bachelor’s level nursing degrees in their own community. Thank you to the nursing consortium – represented today by Debra Brady, Jenny Landen, Nisa Bruce, and Terry Keller.
More nurses in rural areas. You helped make it happen.
I’m also proposing aggressive initiatives to increase the number of primary care providers – of all types – all over New Mexico.
We’ll help repay student loans - doubling our commitment, particularly for those who agree to serve in rural areas. This will create up to 720 new health care workers this decade – nurses, dentists, physicians, and others, in areas that are too often underserved.
Expand tele-medicine, connecting rural-area providers and patients with a physician or specialist.
Train more doctors and nurse practitioners here at home.
Cut the red tape to attract more nurse practitioners. Under this plan, any nurse practitioner in the country who wants to come to New Mexico will be licensed and ready to provide quality health care in five days or less.
You see, building a health care workforce is about embracing the uniqueness of our state and hiring the right kind of practitioners to meet the diverse needs of each of our communities.
Just as a strong workforce is the lifeblood of an economy, infrastructure serves as an economy’s foundation.
Sadly, New Mexico’s water infrastructure is in a state of crisis.
As Governor, I have seen first-hand the effects of our devastating drought. Water supplies have run dry in towns like Magdalena. We’ve seen the one-two punch of wildfires, followed by floods, destroying watersheds and threatening communities.
We cannot control the duration or intensity of the drought we face.
But we can control our response to it.
If we invest in water infrastructure in a way that benefits each of our unique local economies, we will not only create jobs in the short-run, but also set the stage for long-term economic growth.
We’ve seen it work. The border area is growing dramatically, in part, because we invested in water infrastructure and allowed Santa Teresa to serve more businesses. Now their industrial park is booming.
Building and repairing our water infrastructure has never been more important. Everyone agrees on this. That’s why I’m asking that we invest 60 percent of our capital dollars on critical water projects throughout New Mexico.
These capital dollars are not my dollars, or the Legislature’s dollars. These tax dollars belong to the people of New Mexico, and they should be invested where they need help the most. Water projects should be on the top of the list.
But I’ve been clear from day one: The most significant way to improve our economy in the long-run is improving education, ensuring children can read at an early age and that they graduate from high school with the skills they need to succeed in life.
I haven’t been shy about investing in education. Education spending is now above pre-recession levels, the highest in state history. My budget calls for $100 million more.
But money alone isn’t the answer. We should expect a return on our education dollars, and that return should be student achievement - our kids reading at a higher level, our students graduating at a higher rate.
Money should go directly to supporting struggling students, increasing parental involvement, developing and rewarding successful teachers, and turning failing schools around - not simply funneling all of our education dollars toward the bureaucracy.
It begins with making sure that every child is able to learn to read.
We doubled funding for Pre-K, went from serving 4,600 students to almost 8,000. I am proposing another expansion this year.
We’ve expanded K-3 Plus and made it permanent, giving 11,000 struggling kids extra help over the summer.
Under my budget, we would spend $15.5 million on the tools our teachers need to identify struggling readers early on, and get them help to bring them up to speed.
The interventions are in place. What isn’t in place is a law essentially saying that we refuse to set our children up for failure in school and in life.
Every New Mexico 3rd grader who can’t read and gets passed along anyway is four times more likely to drop out. That’s not an opinion; it’s a fact.
Those who drop-out are more prone to end up on the wrong side of the law, struggle to find work, and have a hard time providing for a family.
We shouldn’t set kids up for a future like that.
Kids need help early on, in kindergarten, first and second grades. We’re giving them that help right now.
But if a child can’t read by the end of the third grade, it’s far more compassionate to give them an extra year of help to catch-up, rather than simply passing them on and setting them up for limited opportunities in life.
New Mexicans know the right choice, and members of both parties in this Legislature have embraced the right approach before.
Let’s not play games. Let’s finally end social promotion and ensure that every New Mexico child can be read by the end of the third grade.
Getting money directly into the classroom also means providing our schools with updated textbooks. Everywhere I travel, I hear about it. Under my budget, we increase funding for kids’ textbooks by $9 million – a 43 percent increase.
Teachers throughout the state also pull me aside and talk to me about the importance of parents being more involved and engaged in their students’ education. I couldn’t agree more.
A lot of parents want to be better partners, but may not know how. Some parents need help.
That’s why we’ve trained over 5,000 parents in fun, evening workshops at schools across the state. They’re called: “Readers Raise the Roof”; it’s where we teach parents how to teach their kids to read.
It’s why last summer we encouraged our kids to take part in reading challenges all over the state.
It’s why we give every first grader a reading book of their own to take home and read with their family, because we need to encourage parental involvement.
And it’s why I’m proposing the expansion of parent portals - websites where parents are able to monitor their child’s homework, grades, and attendance on a daily basis. It improves parent/teacher communication.
It’s easier for a mom to ask her child, “Do you have homework?” and already know the answer. Or, “I hear you’re having a hard time in math…let me see if I can help.”
Beyond increasing parental involvement, we can do even more to support and champion teachers in New Mexico.
It’s an honorable profession. Next to their parents, the adults children see most in life are their teachers. If a teacher can get the best out of their students, get them to read well and improve, they arm their students with the best opportunity to succeed.
We should support our teachers with additional pay; by rewarding and recognizing effective teachers, and it is time that we raise the minimum salary for starting teachers by 10 percent.
We should support our teachers with advancement opportunities like being able to become a principal in two years instead of six.
We should support our teachers by providing help and training.
In the past three years, we have trained over 6,000 teachers and school leaders, offering academies for teachers in struggling schools.
Under my budget, we expand that training. I am also pledging $8.5 million to improve how we educate students aspiring to be teachers at our colleges and universities, so that they’re even better prepared to enter the classroom.
And, we should support our teachers by providing them with thorough and fair evaluations.
Help them identify areas where they can improve, and finally recognize and honor their successes.
Our previous system was not a real evaluation at all; 99 percent were rated at the same level - “meets competency.”
The President’s education secretary singled it out and called it a broken system.
Even before we made our improvements, an Albuquerque school had already taken a similar approach, factoring student progress into their evaluation process.
Sure, it was controversial at first, but it worked.
I am pleased to welcome the principal of Albuquerque Institute for Mathematics and Science (AIMS), Kathy Sandoval-Snider, and two teachers – Brianna Logan and Jerry Delmore.
Here’s what Jerry said of the teacher evaluation system: “At first it was hard, but I love the fact that I’m evaluated now. I can wear it as a badge of honor, saying, ‘Look, I accomplished it.’”
These evaluations help teachers improve.
AIMS is a blue ribbon school today. Kathy says it wouldn’t have happened without these reforms. And this year, they’re expecting a near 100 percent graduation rate.
When we invest in reform, when we set a high bar and keep it there, we have seen what is possible.
Across the state, third graders showed modest improvement in reading, which is positive, but in those districts that were piloting our reading reforms, using reading coaches and other interventions, the third graders in those schools saw test scores increase by more than twice as much.
That shows the reading reforms are working.
Last year, we saw our graduation rate rise from 63 percent to 70 percent – a significant increase. Think about what that means.
That’s more than 1,300 Hispanic students receiving diplomas in New Mexico, who would’ve been dropouts one year earlier, moving us from 42nd in the nation to 31st.
That’s nearly 250 more Native American students receiving diplomas, moving us from 37th in the nation to 29th.
Fifty-nine additional African-American students, taking us from 40th to 25th.
More than 650 additional English-language learners, taking us from 28th to 15th.
And almost 1,300 more low-income students receiving diplomas, who would’ve been dropouts one year earlier, taking us from near last to 39th.
You see, each new diploma isn’t just one more piece of paper. It’s a ticket to a more successful life.
We’re raising the bar, and our students, teachers, and schools are meeting it. It’s high time that we acknowledge and embrace that accountability in education works.
Am I satisfied with small increases in third grade reading, or with a graduation rate that still shows three in 10 high school students failing to receive a diploma?
Absolutely not; nowhere near satisfied.
But it shows the important progress we can make when we choose to change, when we choose to reform, when we choose to invest in helping our struggling students read, and when we better prepare our high school students for college or the workforce.
So, let’s continue to choose reform over the status quo.
Of course, when companies look to expand in New Mexico, or perhaps relocate here, there are a number of other factors they consider – quality of life concerns. They look at public safety, for example.
Over my 28-year career, I’ve seen times when New Mexico has chosen to lead in this area. One of the most difficult cases I ever prosecuted involved the death of Katie Sepich, a young woman whose brutal murder has led to DNA collection laws being enacted throughout the country.
Armed by the amazing strength of Katie’s parents, Dave and Jayann, New Mexico chose to be a national leader in this effort.
In 2011, we strengthened Katie’s Law to include DNA collection for all felony arrests. And in what was an incredibly important moment for our state, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of DNA collection this past June.
Dave and Jayann – I’ve heard you talk about how hard the last eight years have been harder than you ever expected. Your journey required a step of faith. You took that step, and your work has saved the lives of young men and women all over the country. It has also saved other mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, from feeling the loss that I know you felt, because I was with you when you lost Katie.
Katie would be so proud of you, and the State of New Mexico is proud of you as well.
There is so much additional work to be done to protect children from harm. Eight months ago, I put together a child abuse working group and asked them to identify loopholes and deficiencies in our child abuse laws. Now it’s time to make some common-sense changes.
One example: if a child is enticed over the Internet for sex, it’s a felony. If the same enticement takes place in person, it’s a misdemeanor.
If a child is abused intentionally and killed at the age of 11 years and 364 days old, the killer gets life in prison.
But if a child is a day older, the killer can be out of prison in about 15 years for committing the same crime.
There are other changes we need to make, like requiring oversight of facilities where children are placed in residential care and ensuring parents attend counseling after abuse allegations.
I’m also asking that New Mexico join eight other states in passing Erin’s Law, which would require that all children receive age-appropriate education on how to recognize, avoid, and report abuse, arming them with information that could potentially save their lives.
But perhaps the most important clarification we should make relates to who is responsible for reporting child abuse. As a career prosecutor, specializing in child abuse cases, it has always been well-understood that anyone who sees a child being abused must report it, or face criminal penalties.
In fact, not only did I prosecute Baby Brianna’s killers, I prosecuted her uncle and grandmother as well. They knew what was happening. They saw it, but they did nothing about it.
We can’t just place this reporting requirement on professionals like social workers, teachers, or coaches. Baby Brianna never interacted with any of these people. She was too young to be in school and was never taken to the doctor. She was just five months old.
So, aside from her family, who was going to see her abuse and stop it?
I’m highly disappointed by the recent state Court of Appeals decision saying our law isn’t crystal clear on this subject. Well, if it wasn’t crystal clear before, it’s time to leave no doubt; we must enact legislation to make it clear that child abuse must be reported by anyone who knows or suspects that it is taking place.
Keeping our children and families safe also requires cracking down on repeat DWI offenders. Offenders should receive more jail time, and DWI convictions should count when felony offenders are being sentenced for other crimes.
And any person who gives their car to someone they know does not have a license because of a DWI conviction should face real punishment.
While we’re on the subject of public safety, I’m once again asking this Legislature to repeal the dangerous law that gives driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
We’ve seen several fraud operations busted recently. Just last year, an elaborate scheme was uncovered in eastern New Mexico – where hundreds of driver’s licenses were sold to illegal immigrants. The ringleader bragged that he made $30,000 a month.
I’ve put forward a strong compromise to repeal this law and still allow driving privileges for Dreamers. It’s time to act. The Legislature should do what the overwhelming majority of New Mexicans are demanding – repeal this dangerous law.
In addition to asking whether the state is safe, businesses often want to know – will they be given a fair shake by those in government? Not special treatment, just a fair shake.
We’ve taken some important steps, but can do even more.
Just as I’ve prohibited my appointees from lobbying the legislature or the administration after leaving their posts, the same two-year ban should apply to members of the Legislature as well.
And, in addition, it’s time to require those convicted of corruption to be immediately removed from public office. And they should be prohibited from unloading their campaign funds into any place other than donating it to New Mexico’s general fund.
Before I close, it’s always the right time to honor and support those who fought so hard to protect our freedom – our veterans. Earlier this year, I started a pilot program where we hired a crew of veterans who had recently returned from combat to serve as firefighters. They became well-trained and battled summer blazes in Pecos, Kingston, and Jemez, as well as fires in California and Oregon when other states needed our help, showing tremendous skill and unparalleled work ethic.
I’d like to introduce two of those brave soldiers, and now, trained firefighters - husband and wife, Brian and Tessa Filip.
Thank you for your service, and in honor of it, I propose that we make the “Returning Heroes” firefighting program permanent.
As we continue to provide free mental health services to returning veterans and their families, we must never forget that honoring veterans who are no longer with us is one of the most sacred responsibilities society shares.
It’s time to start building local veterans cemeteries throughout New Mexico, of the highest standard. That way, families of our veterans no longer have to travel great distances to visit the gravesites of their loved ones.
For $600,000, we can build three or four new cemeteries in areas that have large populations of unserved veterans. We’d be the first state to adopt this unique approach to a long-standing problem.
It is the least we can do, given all they have done for us.
With great challenges come great opportunities. To seize these opportunities, we must come together - Republicans and Democrats, The Legislature and the Governor.
I know we can do it, because we have in the past, on very big issues.
We came together to close the largest structural deficit in state history, and came together to completely revamp our unemployment insurance system.
We came together on education reform, school grading to increase accountability, and making K-3 plus permanent to give struggling kids the help they need.
This session we need to do more on education, tackle early childhood literacy, and reform our lottery scholarship to sustain it in the immediate future, and to protect it for the long run.
On tax reform, all sides compromised, and we achieved a great deal for the people of New Mexico. We cut the business tax rate by 22 percent, closed loopholes, and enhanced film incentives for television series filmed in the state.
This session is a short session - only 30 days. Let’s put the most pressing issues first - education reform and helping create a diverse economy that’s less dependent on Washington, D.C.
While we won’t agree on everything, and there will certainly be spirited debates, I am committed to working with you to find common ground, just like we have in the past, because the people of New Mexico deserve nothing less.
Thank you. God bless you all, and God bless the State of New Mexico.
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