Letters: Readers weigh in on issues of the day
Thanks to Sheriff's Deputies for helping out
On Jan. 18, my granddaughter got into an argument and left our house in rural Flora Vista wearing just a thin, short sleeved T-shirt, jeans and no cell phone. She was obviously very upset or she wouldn’t have left in the first place and since she sometimes will go for a walk to cool off when she is angry, we gave her space so that she could calm down.
It was almost dark when she left and the temperatures were below freezing outside so when the minutes slowly crept into an hour, we decided that we had better go look for her. We called everyone we knew and looked everywhere. Our worst nightmares started to slip into our minds as we envisioned her either being abducted or freezing to death.
Finally we called the Sheriff’s Office. In less than 10 minutes, Deputy Montoya arrived and proceeded to ask us questions. He then calmly told us not to worry and that they would do their best to find her. He went outside and within 30 minutes, notified us that another officer had found her!
Soon another patrol car pulled up to our house and Deputy Tso introduced herself to us and told us that she had found my granddaughter and explained the process of what would happen now. Both officers were very patient and after speaking at length with my granddaughter, they recommended that she be brought to the hospital to be evaluated and asked us to follow them there, which we did.
The kindness, patience and compassion shown to my family and in particular my granddaughter during this tumultuous time was so appreciated. The fact that these two officers took the time to talk to and be patient with us was indeed above and beyond what they were required to do.
I am convinced that these two officers, Mr. Montoya and Ms. Tso, saved my granddaughter’s life in more ways than one and I cannot thank them enough for what they did. In a time when people are content to simply “do their job,” these extraordinary individuals restored my faith in people.
I offer a very sincere “thank you” to deputies Montoya and Tso for not only saving my granddaughter’s life, but also my family.
And thanks to first responders in Aztec
A BIG thank you to the fire department, paramedics, ambulance, Miguel with Lincare who responded to my 9ll call after falling on the ice and snow in Aztec on Jan. 14. You all were great and very caring. Thank you also to our good neighbors Bob and Bonnie and Margaret who helped us out when we needed it.
We sincerely appreciate it.
Bob and Judy Piper
Raid on the land grant fund is a war on children
The Land Grant Permanent Fund was established with New Mexico’s statehood in 1912 and is held in trust for our public schools as New Mexico’s education endowment fund. Improper management would constitute a war on our children.
While enrollment in New Mexico’s schools has been relatively consistent, the education budget has increased by almost $900 million in the last 12 years. Over one-third of that increase came from the fund.
The fact that 40 groups are pushing for over $1 billion in additional fund disbursements is a problem. Under the Children, Youth and Family Division, these groups are receiving or seeking funding for such services as childhood health screenings, prenatal care, and birth to pre-kindergarten care among other things.
Medicaid covers these services with other tax dollars, so there is no need to fund them in the education budget. Nor would that type of funding be appropriate because it is unconstitutional.
Gary King, former New Mexico attorney general, reviewed the federal constitutional requirements for the fund and confirmed that: 1) the state constitution directly prohibits the state from using money from the fund for private entities; and 2) distributions from the fund must be limited to learning programs provided by public schools.
If New Mexico is funding private entities from the fund distributions, the state is in direct violation of federal requirements. Regardless, we have serious accountability issues because our education results are dismally low with New Mexico still ranked 49th.
New Mexico ranked No. 3 on an index that measures the equitable distribution of funding per pupil. More money is obviously not the answer, but how we spend it is. If we invested in competitive teachers’ salaries and quality educational materials rather than special interest groups, we may see our children flourish.
The fund distribution rate is scheduled to drop to 5 percent in fiscal year 2017, a prudent rate to protect the corpus of the fund. It would amount to a one-time decrease of about $17 million. If the fund is left at that rate, it should produce an additional $54 million the following year for a total distribution of over $640 million and $1 billion in distributions by about fiscal year 2025.
Responsible withdrawals from the fund are key to providing for our children’s education in perpetuity. It also saves taxpayers approximately $814 per year per household in taxes. To increase withdrawal rates and risk our children’s futures is irresponsible and would jeopardize the fund. We already have two “permanent” funds, Tobacco and Severance Tax, that are either dead or dying because of over depletion. We don’t need to use the Land Grant Permanent Fund as yet another example of how to kill a fund.
Despite numerous policy proposals and actions, New Mexico’s expenditures on its educational challenges have not yielded adequate results. The answer is not an increased rate of fund disbursements, but instead to focus on direct learning programs that yield beneficial results without violating federal requirements. That could be accomplished if the state would stop funding special interest groups and put the money into our teachers and quality educational materials.
Carla J. Sonntag
President and Founder, New Mexico Business Coalition