Demanding Action in New Mexico so all our #FamsThrive

Thursday, February 27, 2014

By Jon Wong, New Mexico Program Coordinator
The 2014 legislative session ended last week, and we have been on the move here at Strong Families New Mexico! From supporting press conferences highlighting the important of the lottery scholarship for our families, to putting pressure on Governor Martinez' office in support of adult education, the last few weeks have been incredibly fast paced as we advanced policies that allow all our families to thrive.
Denicia and Tannia from YWU standing with Cande and Sonia from Encuentro on Adult Ed Day
In Santa Fe we worked with our partners and allies to push our legislators for policies that our families need. We worked with the New Mexico Coalition for Equity and Justice and the New Mexico Dreamers in Action to push for maintaining education funding and to prevent merit testing on lottery scholarships. We also went on a legislative scavenger hunt with the New Mexico Asian Family Center to find legislators and ask them to support important legislation, like the Working Families Tax Credit.

One of our big successes this legislative session was the passage of Senate Bill 44, a bill that will ensure that people who are working toward a high school diploma equivalent have more options. Currently the GED test is the only option in New Mexico and with the test’s privatization by Pearson VUE, test rates have gone up to $120 and required test takers to have access to a computer, which can be inaccessible to low-income and rural New Mexicans. Thanks to our strong work with our partners at Encuentro and Young Women United, we effectively lobbied our legislatures and the bill swiftly passed both houses with broad, bipartisan support. Right now the bill sits at Governor Martinez’ desk waiting to be signed, but we haven’t stopped our advocacy. In the past week alone the Governor’s office reported at least 50 emails sent in support of the bill and countless phone calls.
Image used on social media to demand action in support of SB44
Despite these positive steps, there were still missed opportunities by the legislature this session. One of the biggest of these was a bill to allow voters to weigh in on a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage in New Mexico. The bill, if passed by the legislature and approved by the voters, would have ensured that the minimum wage would go up at the rate of inflation, making sure that families are not punished as the cost of living goes up. Unfortunately, the bill failed in the House of Representatives, falling short by just three votes.

As we look toward the rest of the year and plan for the next legislative session, we must continue our work so our leaders in Santa Fe hear our voices and why these missed opportunities are important for our families. We must continue to educate our elected officials on the importance of passing Strong Families policies that represent our families so we have the tools and support to thrive. We will continue to work together across sectors because by lifting our voices, we have the power to bring justice for all our families.

Strong Families New Mexico Legislative Working Group Members include: Encuentro, Enlace Comunitario, El Centro de Igualidad y Derechos, Families United for Education, Media Literacy Project,Men of Color Initiative, NM Asian Family Center, NM Dreamers in Action, NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, OLÉ – Organizers in the Land of Enchantment, Tewa Women United, Young Women United

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