One (Small) Step for School Choice

In this week's Intelligencer, bipartisan education reform bill is a small step forward, the governor struggles to salvage her agenda, partisan public officials target their opposition, four New Mexico veterans clinics are on the chopping block, and the economic impact of shutting down coal power plants.

The Intelligencer is a weekly newsletter that gives you a quick overview of La Politica across New Mexico and the U.S., covering topics such as policy, current events, the political landscape, and tech.

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Dax Contreras
Executive Director, Hispanos Unidos

1.  Education bill helping charter schools actually signed into law!

The details: Some charter schools are private but many are actually public schools. However, they have been treated with a second-class status by the public school bureaucracy. After all, what monopoly likes competition? The teachers unions’ monopoly on New Mexico’s public school system is threatened by true reform. But the passage of HB43 now allows public charter schools to have access to funding and resources previously denied to charters.

What they’re saying: One HB43 co-sponsor, Democrat State Senator Correa Hemphill, is an educator who has worked in both traditional public and charter schools. "There's a place for all of us. We can support charter schools and that helps (traditional public schools) to be able to do their job," she said.

Republican State Senator Diamond agreed, adding that some district administrators "see new charters as competition.”

The bigger picture: Competition is good for students, parents, and taxpayers. But it’s not necessarily good for the status quo of a system that is perpetually at the bottom of the list. Reform disrupts the status quo of a bloated and corrupt system controlled for economic gain by the unions who allow their far-left allies to push CRT and other radical political ideologies.

This basic reform comes only because MLG and many Democrats know they need to look like they’re doing something to improve education in order to get reelected — although it’s now more common to see moderate and conservative Democrats in favor of true reform, as more and more people support education reform. Elections have consequences indeed. 

2. MLG’s veto riles legislators while her newest executive order rankles the greens


Budget veto: The  “junior bill” is a special pork barrel budget that legislators use to fund services that are not covered in the general budget bill. But how this money is actually spent has little oversight. Legislators love the junior bill because it can be a slush fund for handouts and kickbacks to help ensure reelection. Some are pushing for an extraordinary session (a session called by both houses) to override MLG’s veto.

Hydrogen push: Despite the hydrogen hub’s failure to pass the legislature, Governor Lujan Grisham signed an executive order for several state agencies to “collaborate on pursuing funding and economic opportunities” related to the hydrogen industry.

The big picture: MLG’s veto was not about transparency and probably had little to do with the appropriateness of appropriations; more likely the Governor is punishing elected officials who disagreed with her on some of the issues and did not give her a rubber stamp on her favored legislation. The executive order on hydrogen only confirms her tendency to favor a "my way or the highway" approach.

3. Democrat officials drop the hammer on election integrity activists


The details: New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colón used his power to target Otero County Commissioners over a $49,750 contract for EchoMail to perform an audit of the 2020 General Election. The audit was part of a movement across the country challenging the election process and results.

Nothingburger: Colón found no actual misconduct or violations by the Otero County commissioners – although Colón tried to make as much political hay as possible saying the contract procurement was not “in a manner above reproach” and commissioners may have "failed to treat their government position as a public trust” by spending money on an election audit.

More details: The audit in Otero has received national attention and has been especially controversial after a volunteer canvasser was captured on camera misrepresenting her involvement with the county commission. The volunteer was clearly undertrained, which shows just how important (and effective) good field organizing really is. Meanwhile, Colón is grandstanding to help his fellow Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver who is running for reelection as Secretary of State, and who has been successfully sued for her own abuse of public trust.

4. Biden Administration targets several VA clinics in New Mexico for closure


The plan: The Department of Veterans Affairs, which has a history of incompetence and lack of responsiveness is looking to close clinic locations across the country, as the president’s fiscal and domestic policies are strangling the economy and failing to prioritize funding for our nation’s veterans.

Hitting home: With New Mexico already lacking medical providers and with veterans already struggling to travel long distances to get help, the recommendations of the commission will only make things worse. Four community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs) could close and one would relocate, impacting Gallup, Las Vegas, Raton, and Española.

Lack of leadership: With Democrats in the majority in D.C., they control the bureaucracy, which includes the VA system. This is especially concerning during this particularly inept administration, and does not bode well that New Mexico’s federal delegation (with its reduced influence and seniority) has failed to sway their fellow partisans in Washington.

5. Arizona energy regulators ask NM regulators for input on how communities are impacted by coal shutdowns


The details: Arizona regulators reached out to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission as part of policy discussions about coal-impacted communities.

Background: As the coal-fired power plants in the region are preparing to shut down, the Arizona Corporation Commission is analyzing the economic impacts of those closures on the surrounding communities.

The big picture: The failure of the California energy model continues to wreck havoc on the Western energy grid by reducing reliability while increasing costs. And to make matters worse, in Arizona and New Mexico especially, the coal-fired power plants are major economic engines that will cease to provide jobs and a reliable tax base to their surrounding communities. This is a serious problem that Arizona regulators are struggling to solve: their proposed short term solution likely will involve economic payments to those communities for years to come. But in the long term, the economic viability of those communities will be uncertain. 


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