Last Sunday Susana Martinez travelled to Los Alamos to support Jim Hall to be re-elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives.
In her speech she described how Hall worked to reform taxes so that construction and manufacturing companies could recover from the economic recession, and how he supported a “no social promotion bill,” and made sure that the initiative was fully funded.
Reforming the business tax system to allow businesses to thrive in New Mexico
“We’re trying to make New Mexico the place it needs to be so businesses will want to come here. We’re trying to do that through tax reform,” said Martinez. “With the help of Jim and his vote we were able to reduce taxes on construction and manufacturing.”
The construction industry in New Mexico has taken the longest amount of time to recover because they are taxed for every step they take to complete a project.
Martinez said, “You get tax after tax after tax in the construction business, and we took care of that. It’s a terrible time to tax businesses. We are recovering. We now have our second year of surplus. And that’s because we allowed small businesses to keep their doors open.”
According to Martinez, construction and manufacturing businesses saved over $345 million in taxes and has attracted new businesses to the state.
Reform education so that all children read at their grade level
“I don’t think anyone is happy with being the 48th in the nation in education,” Martinez said.
That’s why she and Hall are trying to pass a bill that puts an end to social promotion.
Learning to read by fourth grade is important because at that point students need those reading skills to be able to succeed in school.
“If we lose the kids in first grade, and they fall through the cracks during the next few years, they will end up getting frustrated, start skipping class and drop out of school,” Martinez said.
Critics of the no social promotion bill argue that schools will face a logjam of third graders who have been held back, but Martinez demonstrated how Hall and her administration have put aside the funds and resources to prevent that outcome.
“Our goal is not to hold back third graders,” said Martinez. “We want to make sure that when they leave third grade they can read like a third grader or better.”
With Hall’s support, Martinez’s administration set aside 30 million dollars to ensure the success of this initiative, and they doubled funding for reading coaches and professional development for teachers from pre-K to third grade.
Martinez described their plan to produce better teachers, which will be implemented on an administrative level. The Higher Education Department and the Public Education Department will work together to help college students who want to become teachers, gain the skills and knowledge they need to teach more effectively. “I want to pay these teachers more,” said Martinez. “I want to reward them.”
During the question and answer period an attendee said that he wouldn’t have the career that he has had he not been held back.
“I immigrated to this country and I couldn’t read. I was in 6th grade in Ohio. I was held back,” he said. “I appreciate being held back because otherwise I wouldn’t have succeeded going forward. I was the first person in my family to go to college and finish, get my Ph.D. and work at the lab. In my case it was reading. Math was not the problem. So why is there all this resistance to helping people so that they read at their grade level?”
Business, jobs and education are related issues
Hall and Martinez agree that improving education and creating private sector jobs are two sides of the same coin.
Hall said, “When New Mexico employers are asked about what they need, they consistently say they need a ‘skilled workforce.’ Employers also complain that when they hire new workers they train them to do specific skills, but also must train them in general skills, like reading and writing. This raises the cost of finding and hiring workers. Colleges have a huge demand for remedial courses. That means that children are leaving the K-12 system without having the skills and knowledge they need to find jobs and build lasting careers. I believe that we owe our children more than that.”