Tripp: House to address New Mexico’s challenges
As a member of the State Legislature and Speaker of the House, I carry a great responsibility entrusted to me by the people of New Mexico to work on laws that will improve our state. I am honored to have this opportunity to listen to New Mexicans and work hard on their behalf.
There’s a lot that needs to get done during this short 30-day session. Most of our work will be focused on passing a budget, but we know New Mexico has many other challenges that need to be addressed. My colleagues and I in the House Majority have heard your concerns, and we are ready to get to work on the priorities you have set for us: improving public safety, education and the economy.
We have lost too many innocent lives due to senseless acts of violence. The tragedies experienced by New Mexico families during the past year have made it clear that we need to strengthen our criminal code to keep New Mexicans safe from violent career criminals. New Mexico is the 4th most dangerous state in the country according to FBI crime data. The violent crime rates in our communities are unacceptably high. We’re working to change that.
House Republicans are sponsoring a broad agenda of public safety improvements aimed at combating violent criminals stalking New Mexico’s streets. Whether it’s toughening the penalties for child abuse, cracking down on repeat DWI offenders or keeping the most dangerous criminals out of our neighborhoods, we are going to fight to protect our children and communities.
In addition, we must stop issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Recently, the Department of Defense announced that New Mexico driver’s licenses will not be accepted at military bases because they are not REAL ID compliant. My colleagues and I have worked tirelessly to repeal this law for years, but our efforts have been consistently blocked by the Senate. This year, we have proposed a compromise measure that will allow illegal immigrants to have driving privilege cards – not driver’s licenses. I’m hopeful that Sen. Sanchez will work with us on this compromise legislation.
However, I am concerned that a few special interest groups have already signaled their intention to block many of our public safety proposals. Last year, these groups worked with Senate Democrats to kill most of the bills passed by the House. But we will continue to fight for the safety of the people of New Mexico, regardless of what the special interests want.
House Republicans are also working to ensure every New Mexico child receives a first-rate education. We will continue to support reforms to improve our public education system and make sure each student graduates with the skills they need to succeed. Quality early childhood programs are essential to get our kids off to a good start in life. We have made a significant investment in several early childhood initiatives, and funding for these programs has increased by over $100 million since fiscal year 2012. We will continue to build upon our investment this year.
Of course, we need to ensure our students can find good jobs here at home once they graduate. We will maintain our efforts to promote a healthy economic climate that’s competitive with surrounding states. We must diversify New Mexico’s economy so we can attract more businesses that bring jobs to our state. To that end, we will continue our support for economic development initiatives such as the closing fund and the Job Training Incentive Program, and we’ll work to make sure they are adequately funded.
It’s time to let the citizen’s voice be heard in the Roundhouse. Every year New Mexicans send their legislators to Santa Fe with the expectation that we will pass laws to improve their lives. It’s time to put aside the political games and get to work on the issues that matter to New Mexicans.