McSorley: Martinez absent while economy crashes
Where is Gov. Susana Martinez?
A recent report on New Mexico’s economy confirms that we have been in a deep recession going on eight years, and good jobs are hard to find. The Legislative Council Service issued the analysis showing that we have one of the worst unemployment rates in the nation, now 6.4 percent. The decline in oil production and the absence of any other new economic activity are the causes.
Across our state, we are losing good paying middle-class jobs. They are being replaced by entry-level positions, with which it is impossible to raise a family. Intel announced 12,000 worldwide layoffs not long ago. Who knows if Intel will hand out pink slips to employees at its Rio Rancho manufacturing facility? They would be difficult to replace.
According to the report, “the economy struggles to find traction today.” Young and educated New Mexicans are leaving our zero-growth state for better, available jobs in surrounding states. Colorado and Texas, despite being oil and gas states, are enjoying an economic resurgence. These young people are key to our future, since good employers will need such workers if they are to locate here.
Tax revenues to fund classrooms, colleges and state government are falling, too. Collections are lower than last year. Oil and gas revenues are down, but gross receipts tax revenues are too, by $111 million.
Where has Gov. Martinez been during this jobs crisis? AWOL. She has barely been in the state at all.
We have challenges aplenty. Instead of dealing with them, the governor has been traveling around the country non-stop, rubbing elbows with CEOs and elites from finance and industry. She has been to national Republican dinners, cocktail parties in New York with Donald Trump, to South Carolina and to the sumptuous Palm Beach mansion of David Koch to sup with top donors. On these jet-setting missions, did she ask the oligarchs of the top 1 percent to bring jobs to struggling New Mexicans?
Remember the grief the governor gave to Bill Richardson every time he left the state, as if it were an impeachable offense? Yet she has far exceeded his travel.
Gov. Martinez’s policies and her lack of engagement are destroying our economic viability. She has created a true structural deficit in our budget. It bleeds massive red ink now and into the future. She claimed to have fixed the budget after she took office. It was actually the Legislature that did so, but she has certainly been responsible for the budget problems since then. With none of the promised economic gains, Gov. Martinez has caused our jobs crisis.
We have the highest rate of child poverty in the nation. Teachers, law enforcement and corrections officers are paid less than those in other states. Median wages are some of the lowest. Our roads and infrastructure need repair, yet we lack funds.
The Senate tried to address the jobs crisis with a slew of positive measures that would have brought reasonably quick change. The governor was not interested.
New Mexico needs an executive who will focus on creating jobs. We have no effective leadership or ideas for jobs or economic improvement from this governor. Her ideas for job creation have been a failure. Families and communities are paying the price.
But the future may look bright for the governor personally. She may have landed a lucrative job while hobnobbing with the top 1 percent elites after she leaves office. In the meantime New Mexicans suffer.
Cisco McSorley represents District 16, which includes Bernalillo County, in the New Mexico Senate.