The "hidden tax" on New Mexico families

In this week's Intelligencer, the "hidden tax" hurting families in New Mexico, another child death case sentenced, fear of debt keeps Hispanics out of college, MLG goes to Scotland, school bus drivers in Las Cruces threaten to go on strike, and a social media tool aimed at helping young users run for office.

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.

Send us any feedback (including chismes and quejas) by going to our website or shoot me an email at dax[AT]nmhispanos.com. And if you are not already subscribed, sign up here.


Dax Contreras
Executive Director, Hispanos Unidos

1. Families hit hard by Biden administration’s first term

Details: Although inflation is the hot topic du jour, we have been keeping a local eye on the problem for months. Inflation is often called a “hidden tax,” because it reduces people’s real purchasing power. Now that inflation is especially high, another costly problem emerges: “bracket creep.”

What they’re saying: Bracket creep is when people end up in higher tax brackets as their wages are inflated but the purchasing-power of those wages do not increase. As one expert explains, when states have no (or insufficient) cost-of-living adjustments, it is an “unlegislated tax increase…cutting into wage growth and reducing return on investment.” This is even worse during high inflation periods like the one we are in now. With real wages declining, it is not surprising to see stagnant or declining labor force participation.

The big picture: The damage of our recent inflation crisis cannot be hidden and it is showing in President Biden’s latest approval rating, which is diving day by day. With more than three years left in Biden’s term, it is up to New Mexicans to push their elected officials to make necessary state reforms in order to withstand Washington’s disastrous policies.

2. State agency’s failures have still prompted no reforms

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Details: Last week, Jordan Nunez was sentenced to 21 years in prison for failing to report the abuse that led to the death of 13 year old Jeremiah Valencia. The abuse was at the hands of Nunez’ father, Thomas Ferguson.

Background: Valencia’s tragic death is, sadly, not an unfamiliar tragedy. Other high profile abuse-related killings have occurred under the watch of the notorious state agency, Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD.) The scandal-ridden agency has failed to seriously address this problem.

Why it matters: In 2018, a bi-partisan sponsored bill, HB100, that would have increased penalties in cases of intentional child abuse resulting in death, passed with a 62-2 vote in the House, but was then referred to “the graveyard of legislation”: the Senate Judiciary Committee.

3. Hispanics reluctant to enroll in college

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The situation: A study entitled  “Dreams Interrupted” reports that Hispanics do not want to go into debt to pay for college tuition, and that many Hispanics dropped out of college during the COVID lockdowns. It also claims that Hispanics don’t enroll due to a lack of transportation.

Background: Hispanics also are more afraid than non-Hispanics of not being able to pay back the debt — even if they graduate. Clearly, not all undergraduate degrees are created equal: the best return are degrees in STEM and nursing, while the worst return are the arts, theology, education, and the social sciences.

The big picture: To be sure, the average American with a college diploma still earns about 75% more than a worker with a high-school diploma and is less likely to be unemployed. But there have been warning signs regarding the diminishing value of an undergraduate and even graduate degrees. At the same time, the Left’s cradle-to-grave industry of indoctrination and dependence scares students away from alternatives to academia.

4. Governor jet-sets to Scotland — unfortunately she plans on returning

Details: Governor Lujan Grisham, along with an entourage, will be attending the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow to brag about her job-killing policies. The trip is being paid for by two lavishly funded and powerful activist groups, Energy Foundation and Climate Registry, for an undisclosed cost.

Meanwhile: MLG’s other major failure — the COVID lockdown — is but only a little rain on her global-attention seeking parade across the pond, as the milestone of 5,000 coronavirus-related deaths in New Mexico lights up the headlines.

The big picture: While Lujan Grisham fiddles away in Scotland, New Mexico families are struggling to get by and workers in San Juan county are scrambling for new careers, as her “green” agenda continues to put people’s bank accounts into the red. And recently, a state legislator is calling on MLG to resign over her dictatorial spending of federal funds.

5. School bus drivers union threaten strike amid driver shortage

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Details: Las Cruces Public School District has been struggling for years to fill vacancies for bus drivers. Lack of air conditioning, and busses constantly in need of repair have been problems for some time. But now, the American Federation of Teachers Western Region Director Ramiro Hernandez says they have been assisting the bus drivers “in developing and negotiating their contract renewal.” 

What they’re saying: Last month, the union members voted by more than 98% to authorize a strike and member started putting out flyers this week warning parents to find alternative transportation for their kids. The union’s grievances include extra COVID shifts and, of course, are demanding more money.

The Impact: If the union strikes, it could cause many students to miss class, which would exacerbate the learning loss they’ve already experienced due to state and local decision-making. Ultimately, the LCPS Board are responsible for budgeting and have failed to address the concerns. Three board members seats are up, with only one incumbent seeking re-election and who is also the board president. Hispanos Unidos has already endorsed the challenger, Abelardo Balcazar.

6. Snapchat Creates Tool To Help Gen Z’ers Run For Office

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Details: Snapchat is rolling out a new “Run for Office” in-app tool to encourage young adults to run for local office. The social media company says the new tool is designed to help younger users engage with democracy in an easy way. 

Why it matters: "Run for Office" will let users “identify a set of issues they are passionate about” by filtering through a curated list of 75,000 upcoming federal, state, and local elections in order to “surface roles they may be interested in.”

The big picture: Snapchat reaches 90% of Americans between the ages of 13 and 24. During the 2020 election, Snapchat reportedly registered 750,000 young people to vote.