As my first year as your New Mexico State Representative ends, I welcome this opportunity to review the year’s accomplishments, activities and on-going challenges.
The 2019 legislative session was noteworthy for its exceptional productivity and results. After a decade of inertia, the legislature with a cadre of new representatives and our new Governor committed to positive change.
A focused and strategic legislative effort achieved much: a public education moonshot marked by meaningful funding increases for K-12 programs, strong environmental initiatives that support a transition to greener and diverse energy sources, tax reforms that gave a tax cut to nearly 70 percent of New Mexico’s families, and economic and agricultural initiatives that positioned the state for a more prosperous future.
The work is just beginning.
In the 2020 session we will be building on last year’s achievements. We remain focused on our public education system. For too long we have been at the bottom of educational outcomes and child welfare. Although last year was a good start, additional positive educational reforms will be the foundation for economic prosperity by preparing a workforce that can support economic diversification and growth.
Stabilizing revenue sources and supporting a more equitable tax base will be a priority this session. Targeted tax reforms that lower the GRT rate and that address dozens of special interest tax loopholes will alleviate the tax burden on many small New Mexico businesses and make New Mexico a more attractive venue for businesses to locate.
Our behavioral health system is woefully inadequate, and that inadequacy results in thousands of unnecessary incarcerations. We must re-build our behavioral health system with the aim of ensuring that all who need these services have access to them. Prioritizing behavioral health care over incarceration for non-violent crimes is key to overcoming the cycle of recidivism that plagues so many communities.
Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time. We, as a state, must remain committed to developing an ambitious clean energy portfolio with measures that encourage and incentivize clean energy sources. The Energy Transition Act was a start, but more must be done to achieve our clean energy goals.
On a personal note, I thank my constituents of District 43 for contacting me and attending the coffees and town halls that I hosted throughout the year. I appreciate the many emails I received and value the opinions and information you share.
District 43 (Los Alamos, and parts of Santa Fe, Sandoval, Rio Arriba counties) is very diverse. Consequently, the needs and priorities of its residents vary widely. Being a state representative requires me to understand and balance competing values and interests. I will continue to work at listening and look to you to help me calibrate that balance. Happy New Year! I wish you good health and good cheer.
Editor’s note: Rep. Chandler will be hosting a constituent coffee 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 4 at Pig+Fig (Wine Room) in White Rock. All are welcome to attend for an informal discussion of the issues.