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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Making Sense Of Susana's Budget Plan, Debating Third Graders And ABQ Crime Right In Your Face  

In the total context of things, Gov. Martinez's plan to resolve for the time being the state's budget crisis makes sense. She proposes to raid reserve funds held by the public schools for $120 million and get one-time cash from other government accounts.

The stinker in her plan is to reduce the amount state government contributes to the pension plans of state workers. The vast majority of them receive only modest salaries and have seen no pay raises in years. Martinez is at her punitive worst in trying to balance the budget on their humble backs. Lawmakers ought to push back on that one.

Martinez, announcing her budget plans before Tuesday's start of the 60 day legislative session, reiterated her pledge not to raise any taxes and for those concerned about a return of the dreaded food tax, that's good news. A return of the tax was contained in the baffling "bipartisan" and ultimately misguided Harper-McCamley plan that would do nothing to raise revenue.

Martinez, as we have blogged for years, has no interest in addressing the macro economic problems this state faces and at this point--with less than two years left on her term--we are best to wait for the next governor to tackle the systemic and long-term economic woes facing us. This budget patch, consisting mainly of only one-time revenue and keeping in place already approved austerity measures, will kick that can down the road.

Let's face it. The Democrats do not have the unity nor the fight in them to put this Governor on the spot by proposing a complex remake of how the state allocates its resources or raises revenue. Also, to what end? Martinez would veto any such plan and the votes are not there to override her veto.

Thee is still hope for a comprehensive plan to fix our lack of revenue, repair the damage done from years of tax cutting mania and to revamp higher education for the downsized state we face in the years ahead. But that hope now rests on the '18 campaign trail, not at the Roundhouse presided over by a lame duck Governor and uncertain Democrats.

THE LEGACY

The state workforce was at 21,905 full-time positions in October, down 18 percent from mid-2008. Rather than a sign of distress, the Governor and her allies see this smaller government in a positive light. She may see her lasting legacy not as presiding over a failed economy but as the Governor who downsized state government and never raised taxes. If so, that could mean the workforce continues to shrink and that layoffs, which have already begun to trickle in, could continue if revenue projections falter even mildly.

BACK AGAIN

For six years Martinez has been relentless in trying to persuade the legislature to adopt a social promotion policy--holding back third graders who do not pass reading proficiency tests. She's back at it for a seventh year and this time criticizing the public schools for not being very good at notifying the parents of third graders who are not reading well.

Commenting on social media ABQ teacher Jane Avon Rose gave some reasons why the third grade retention is again headed for failure:

Every teacher is required to, and does, send home six report cards and progress reports per student every year and holds two parent-teacher conferences, minimum. If those report cards aren't "notification" what is? Get real. If a parent doesn't know whether their own off spring "can't read," it's rarely because teachers of the child have failed to notify parents. And if a minority of teachers "fluff up" grades, you can bet your retirement it's out of legitimate concern over *some* parents going on the attack for being informed their child is less than perfect, be it via lawsuit, verbal assault, or, more often, modeling disrespect and disregard for teachers in front of the child, who then has permission to act that way in class. We have decades of data proving the ineffectiveness, in fact harmfulness, of retention, especially after age 6. Perhaps someday this administration will do any kind of valid "study." 

KELLER COMING IN

Dem State Auditor Tim Keller will formally announce his candidacy for mayor of ABQ at 10 this morning, according to his campaign. It will be a low key affair with Keller putting out a news release stating his reasons for running and then having "media availability" for 45 minutes in the afternoon. Keller's announcement is here. A video announcement is here.

Here's pic of what ABQ and its current and future leadership faces. Talk about crime right in your face.

According to APD’s Facebook page a victim observed the man pictured inside his car, attempting to steal it. The man got into a late model white Chevrolet Tahoe with another male driving. The man pictured here pointed a gun and fired a shot towards the victim. Anyone with information on this man or vehicle should contact Crime Stoppers at 505-843-STOP.

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