Action Alert: House floor vote on HB 31 raising New Mexico’s minimum wage

New Mexicans keep working harder and harder but haven’t seen a raise in the state minimum wage in over 10 years.

It’s time our state increase the minimum wage for all workers, including tipped workers.

Show your support for HB 31! Don’t let tipped workers and their families behind, they deserve a raise too. Join us!

WHAT: House floor vote on HB 31

WHEN: Wednesday, February 13, 4:30 p.m. (subject to change)

WHERE: House of Representatives gallery at the Roundhouse (490 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501)

HB 31 would increase the state minimum wage to $12 per hour phased in over the next three years for New Mexico’s workers, including tipped workers, who would earn a higher base wage plus tips.

If you can’t make it out make sure to:

Get on social media and share your support for HB 31

FIND THE FACTS ON TIPPED WAGES IN HB 31 RIGHT HERE

Legislation related to multicultural and multilingual education framework to be discussed TOMORROW at press event

SANTA FE—Transform Education NM, a broad coalition of teachers, parents, students, district superintendents, bilingual experts, and non-profit organizations, will hold a press event on Wednesday, February 13, at 11 a.m. in room 318 at the New Mexico State Capitol. Speakers, including Representative Tomás E. Salazar, will share details about pieces of legislation that would create a multicultural and multilingual education framework and include significant changes to ensure more bilingual teachers and professional development.

The bills must still be passed in the House Appropriations Committee and receive funding to move forward in the legislature. The committee is currently considering the public school budgets and intends to finalize its budget bill by next week.

The legislation aligns with the Transform Education NM Platform for Action, which was informed directly by the court’s landmark decision in Yazzie/Martinez.

WHAT:
Transform Education NM press event in the Roundhouse on multicultural education framework

WHO:
Representative Tomás E. Salazar
Preston Sanchez, attorney, New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty
Edward Tabet-Cubero, Learning Alliance New Mexico
Rebecca Blum Martinez, UNM professor, bilingual education expert

WHEN:
Wednesday, February 13, 11:00 a.m.

WHERE:
New Mexico State Capitol, Room 318
Santa Fe, NM 87501

And available via Facebook live here: https://www.facebook.com/TransformEdNM/

*Speakers and other coalition members will be available immediately after the press for one-on-one interviews.

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Transform Education NM is a coalition of educational leaders, families, tribal leaders, and the lawsuit plaintiffs working to transform the state’s educationsystem for our students. To learn more, visit www.transformeducationnm.org

Action Alert: Ask your elected leaders to fund a multicultural education framework

Critical decisions are being made at the legislature about the future of public schools for our children. As you know, children learn better when they have an education that is culturally and linguistically relevant to them. Several bills are advancing that would create and ensure a multicultural and multilingual education in New Mexico and the pipeline of teachers needed to support it.

We urgently need your help to call key elected leaders today to ensure these bills are funded or they might not make it past the House committee that will determine the budget. These bills are necessary for our students and would help bring the state into compliance with the Yazzie/Martinez court ruling that found the state has failed to provide a sufficient education to our children.

Please call these key elected leaders listed below TODAY and ask them to support House Bills 111, 120, 159, and 516 for a multicultural education and to ensure they are fully funded in HB 2 (General Appropriation Act).  

  1. Representative Patricia A. Lundstrom, (505) 986-4316
  2. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, (505) 476-2200
  3. Lt. Governor Howie Morales, (505) 476-2250
  4. Representative Roberto “Bobby” J. Gonzales, 505) 986-4319

Below are short descriptions of each bill. For more information about the Transform Education NM campaign go to: https://transformeducationnm.org/


HB 111—Cultural and Linguistic Education Support (Reps. Tomás Salazar and Linda Trujillo): Builds the capacity for Regional Education Cooperatives (RECs) to provide professional development for educators on culturally and linguistically responsive instruction. HB111 would provide funding for RECs to contract with local experts to build their capacity to provide professional development in strategies and techniques to most effectively teach culturally and linguistically diverse learners.

HB 120—Bilingual Teacher Preparation Act (Rep. Tomás Salazar): Increases the amount of bilingual and TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages)-endorsed teachers in New Mexico by allowing for the Higher Education Department to provide grants for students seeking degrees and/or endorsements in bilingual/multicultural education or TESOL, prioritizing current bilingual educational assistants, bilingual seal recipients, and speakers of indigenous languages.

HB 159—Multicultural Education Framework (Reps. Tomás Salazar and Christine Trujillo): Establishes a multicultural, multilingual framework for public education that aligns the duties and powers of the New Mexico Indian Education Act, Hispanic Education Act, and Bilingual Multicultural Education Act, to address the unique cultural and linguistic needs of New Mexico students.

HB 516—American Indian Educational Outcomes (Reps. Derrick Lente, Christine Trujillo, Linda Trujillo, Roberto “Bobby”Gonzales, and Patricia Lundstrom): Makes appropriations to state institutions of higher education to improve educational outcomes for American Indian public school and higher education students and families.

New analysis reveals New Mexicans suffer disproportionately under weight of student debt

Legislature considers key student loan bill as more than one in five New Mexicans are severely delinquent on their student loans 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new analysis of government data demonstrates the gravity of the student debt crisis in New Mexico. The analyzed data, released by the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC), American Federation of Teachers New Mexico (AFT-NM), and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, show that more than one in five New Mexico consumers are now delinquent on their student loan debt.

New Mexico’s House is currently considering HB 172 which sets out to oversee and crack down on illegal practices by student loan companies.

“Debt stretching for decades after the completion of study is a real crisis impacting New Mexico students and is reason we need legislation like HB 172,” said Stephanie Ly, President of AFT New Mexico. “AFT New Mexico’s goal is to promote increased transparency within the student loan industry and provide mechanisms for relief should borrowers have concerns about their loans. We’ve been fortunate to have champions like Rep. Roybal Caballero carry this bill for several years now, and appreciate Rep. Hochman-Vigil’s joining this fight during her first legislative session.” 

“College should lead to opportunity, not financial ruin,” said Lindsay Cutler, attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. “The analysis makes a clear and compelling case that New Mexico lawmakers need to protect student loan borrowers from illegal industry practices.”

Student loan debt in New Mexico has skyrocketed over 129 percent in the last decade.

The close look at data made available by federal sources shows the student debt crisis growing for borrowers across the state, including:

  • New Mexico has the second highest student loan default rate in the country;
  • New Mexicans now owe more than $6.8 billion in student debt;
  • More than 1 out of every 5 student loan borrowers in New Mexico are severely delinquent on their debt;
  • New Mexico ranks eighth in the country of states with the highest percentage of delinquent debt, and eleventh in percent of borrowers with delinquent debt; and
  • Nearly a quarter of all borrowers living in rural New Mexico are severely delinquent.

“As student loan borrowers in New Mexico suffer each day from the burden of their debt, state leaders must take action,” said Seth Frotman, Executive Director for the Student Borrower Protection Center. “The federal government has walked away from this crisis, casting millions of New Mexicans aside in the process. The borrowers across New Mexico cannot wait any longer for predatory student loan companies to be held accountable.”

As part of HB 172, sponsored by Rep. Roybal Caballero and Rep. Hochman-Vigil, student loan servicers would be required to be licensed and subject to oversight by the New Mexico Financial Institutions Division. These proposals would help ensure that student loan servicers do not mislead borrowers, misapply payments, or provide credit reporting agencies with inaccurate information.

HB 172 is particularly important because the federal government continues to ignore mounting evidence of the nation’s growing student debt crisis. Not only has the federal government halted efforts to protect student loan borrowers, it is turning a blind eye to predatory practices and enabling bad actors to harm borrowers.

SBPC HELPING STATES FIGHT FOR 44 MILLION AMERICANS WITH STUDENT DEBT

In the face of continuing systemic abuses across the student loan industry, state governments are taking action to expand protections for student loan borrowers and halt illegal practices by predatory companies. Last year, the Student Borrower Protection Center launched States for Student Borrower Protection, an initiative that highlights the student debt crisis in states across the country, and is designed to support the leaders in and out of government working to end this crisis through state level actions. Today’s release offers further evidence that state action is urgently needed.

The analysis is part of an ongoing series of original research, projects, and campaigns by SBPC designed to help student loan borrowers by shedding light on the crisis and empower advocates.

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About the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC): The Student Borrower Protection Center (www.protectborrowers.org) is a nonprofit organization solely focused on alleviating the burden of student debt for millions of Americans. SBPC engages in advocacy, policymaking, and litigation strategy to rein in industry abuses, protect borrowers’ rights, and advance economic opportunity for the next generation of students. Led by the team of former federal regulators that directed oversight of the student loan market at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, SBPC exposes harmful and illegal practices in the student loan industry, drives impact litigation, advocates on behalf of student loan borrowers in Washington and in state capitals, and promotes progressive policy change. SBPC accomplishes these goals by partnering with leaders at all levels of government and throughout the nonprofit sector.

About the American Federation of Teachers – New Mexico (AFT-NM): The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do.

About New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty (NMCLP): The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty is dedicated to advancing economic and social justice through education, advocacy, and litigation. We work with low-income New Mexicans to improve living conditions, increase opportunities, and protect the rights of people living in poverty.

From teacher salaries to a multicultural education framework, legislation seeks to improve New Mexico’s education system

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO—Several of the court-mandated remedies to fix the New Mexico education system were discussed at a press event on Monday in the Roundhouse Rotunda, where legislators, students, parents, and lawsuit plaintiffs explained precisely what is necessary to ensure that students’ constitutional right to a quality education is no longer violated.

The remedies include a multicultural education framework, improved bilingual and English language learner programming, universal and quality full-day pre-kindergarten, sufficient access to extended learning opportunities like summer school and after school programming, social services, smaller class sizes, and increased teacher pay and support to recruit and retain high-quality educators.

“These aren’t pie-in-the-sky wishes from concerned parents—we’re working with legislators on bills that represent the minimum fixes needed to meet the court’s order and the rights of our students,” said Victoria Tafoya, Director of the New Mexico Association for Bilingual Education and spokesperson for the Transform Education NM Coalition. “We have a unique opportunity to give all of our students across the state the chance to succeed, and that’s what these pieces of legislation aim to do.”

Proposed legislation for 2019 is based on the Transform Education NM Platform, a comprehensive  blueprint for action to fix New Mexico’s schools. Based on the input of 300+ diverse community stakeholders and two million pages of documentation and expert testimony of educators, economists, and academic researchers as part of the Yazzie/Martinez trial, the platform is the roadmap to successfully transforming the state’s education system.

“Teachers are the heart of education,” said Representative Sheryl Williams Stapleton, Majority Floor Leader of the New Mexico House and sponsor of HB 171, which raises the minimum wage for teachers. “We have among the lowest teacher wages in the country, and one of the highest turnover rates. To be competitive with surrounding states, and to be compliant with the court order, teacher salaries must be increased and must be adjusted yearly for inflation.”

Representative Tomás E. Salazar is sponsoring HB 111, HB 120, and HB 159 to ensure a multicultural, bilingual framework is at the core of the education system. “The bills sponsored by myself and my fellow legislators align to an overall platform that was developed by teachers, superintendents, parents, tribal education experts, and many others. For the first time, we’ve really listened to New Mexicans on what we need to redesign the education system here. We have the knowledge and expertise, and I’m proud to carry these bills.”

Although 76 percent of New Mexico public school students are culturally and linguistically diverse, the court found that the State is violating New Mexico laws that require a multicultural and bilingual framework for New Mexico’s schools. Multiculturalism and bilingualism must be reflected in curriculum, teacher development and in building pathways for teachers.

“As an immigrant, I believe we should be valuing our diversity and seeing it as a strength,” said Michelle Soto, a high school student and member of the New Mexico Dream Team who spoke at the event. “We know that students who are more connected to their culture and community do better in school and we need to strengthen the power of that connection. We can no longer leave some of our students behind.”

Education funding in New Mexico is closely tied to the oil and gas industry, and thereby dependent on the price of oil. While the industry is doing well, and the state legislature is currently operating with a budget surplus, the tax revenue that supports our schools is volatile.

“Big change requires a big investment, and a big investment is what we need to build a world-class education system,” said James Jimenez, Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children and former Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration. “Education in New Mexico has been underfunded for decades. We need to ensure that our schools are sufficiently-resourced to comply with the court’s order, and we need to be certain those resources are sustainable. We need to get off the oil and gas boom-to-bust roller coaster. Legislators need to look at our tax system and make sure it is fair for working families and that our revenue system is stable and sustainable.”

Transform Education NM’s platform and factsheets on the coalition’s legislation can be found here:  http://nmpovertylaw.org/our-work/education/

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Transform Education NM is a coalition of educational leaders, families, tribal leaders, and the lawsuit plaintiffs working to transform the state’s education system for our students.

ACTION ALERT: Call Governor Now to Prevent Budget Cuts

Your action is needed urgently –   the House and Senate just sent a tax package today to Governor Martinez to help avert more deep budget cuts that would further slash funding for our schools, healthcare and public safety agencies. New Mexico is facing school closures and further reduction to classrooms and teachers, the elimination of certain Medicaid services for low-income families and people with disabilities, and a worsening public safety crisis from under-resourcing our courts and other key agencies.

House Bill 202 makes responsible and overdue changes to the tax code, including to level the playing field for small businesses by taxing out of state internet sellers, close up tax loopholes for certain industries, and update the gas tax so the funds can be invested into our roads.

Please call the Governor’s office at 505-476-2200. Ask her to sign HB202, and not to veto any part of it. Let her know that New Mexicans will not accept more budget cuts and that you support this tax package as a fair solution that does not hurt our families.  It will only take a minute to leave a message.

Human Services Department Takes Smart New Approach to Healthcare for the Incarcerated

On Friday, Governor Martinez signed Senate Bill 42 into law. Under the new law, the NM Human Services Department (HSD) will no longer terminate Medicaid coverage for individuals who are incarcerated, suspending their enrollment instead. The law also calls for HSD to give incarcerated individuals who are not yet enrolled in Medicaid the opportunity to apply for coverage before they are released. These simple changes will make it much easier for people newly released from jail or prison to have immediate access to healthcare services upon re-entering the community. This can make a big difference to our state and to recently released individuals and their families. This law is a good step forward in increasing an individual’s likelihood of receiving the care and services they need, both in physical and behavioral health, and successfully re-entering the community.

For more information, please read the press release: Press-Release-NMCLP-SB-42-Medicaid-Suspension-for-Incarcerated-FINAL-2015-4-13

Urgent Action Needed on Legislation Important to Low-Income New Mexicans!

Governor Martinez MUST sign Senate Bill 42 by this FRIDAY, April 10th or it will not become law! Please call her office (505-476-2200) and ask her to sign Senate Bill 42!

The call will only take a minute but will have a tremendous impact for New Mexicans!

What is Senate Bill 42?

As you know access to healthcare coverage is a critical component of successful reentry to the community after incarceration.

Senate Bill 42 would require the Human Services Department to stop terminating an individual’s healthcare coverage when they become incarcerated. The bill would also allow unenrolled individuals to apply for Medicaid before release. By doing these two things, this bill is a first step in increasing an individual’s likelihood of successful reentry into the community.

This bill will help reduce recidivism and is likely to save substantial costs. Healthcare coverage is necessary for accessing mental health treatment and medical care. The experiences of other states has shown that people who are enrolled in Medicaid are less likely to be rearrested, and more likely to participate in behavioral health treatment and other health care services than individuals without Medicaid coverage.

Read more: Action-Alert-SB-42-NMCLP-Website-2015-3-31