NMCEA News


 
Chambers Coming Together Agenda - Explanation for the
New Mexico Chamber Executives Association
51st Legislature, Second Session


 
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
 
While the economy is beginning to show signs of recovery, both the country and the state have a long way to go before reaching pre-recession economic performance and employment levels. Lower levels of federal spending driven by sequestration are an ongoing reality and the potential for new federal budget cuts remains high.  Additionally, the private sector, continuing to deal with the same economic uncertainties, has been reluctant to invest, expand and hire. The NMCEA urges that every possible measure be taken to support private sector growth in order to significantly diversify our economy and to protect the state against the effects of additional federal budget cuts.  
Support
LFC and Administration recommendations to fund JTIP as a recurring line item in the EDD budget at $1.5M and administration recommendation of additional $1.5M non-recurring.
 
The NMCEA strongly supports making JTIP (Jobs Training Incentive Program) a recurring line item of $1.5M in the Economic Development Department’s budget as well as providing for an additional and critically needed $1.5M non-recurring. New Mexico’s workforce represents the most important asset and largest expense for most businesses especially now that the global economy has become more mobile and the need to quickly and efficiently train employees has become critical.  After forty years, nearly 1200 New Mexico companies have benefitted from JTIP with over 43,692 jobs created and skills improved leading to higher paying jobs for many New Mexicans. Based on a number of factors, up to 80% of the hourly training wages of workers learning skills for new, relocating or expanding businesses may come from JTIP.
 
Increasing both thresholds and caps for Angel Investment Tax Credit to attract investment.
 
The Governor is proposing to expand the existing Angel Investment Tax Credit by raising the maximum individual investment threshold from $100,000 to $250,000 as well as increasing the overall cap on the credit from $750,000 to $2 million. The NMCEA supports the Angel Investment Tax Credit and believes that the threshold and cap increases will encourage Angel investors, be they individuals or investment funds investing in start-up companies, to make both larger investments and more investments in these new small businesses.
 
Combining Technology Jobs/R and D Small Business tax credits, increasing the percent of new investment for which credit can be claimed, enhancing benefits and making credit refundable to enhance effectiveness.
 
The NMCEA supports combining these two tax credit incentives and increasing the percent of new investment for which the tax credit can be taken as well as enhancing the benefits related to the creation of new technology–related jobs and infrastructure investment in the State. Most helpful is making the credit refundable in order to help those companies that engage in early R and D activities, which usually have limited tax liability against which to take the credit.  
 
Funding of $15M for LEDA grants (closing fund)

Investment in local infrastructure leads to new investment and new jobs throughout the state. Due to the New Mexico anti-donation law, many communities are unable to compete with other states that can offer cash incentives to recruit new businesses. Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma all have “deal closing” funds, which are used when a business can demonstrate additional funding is necessary to close a competitive gap relative to other states also competing for the same economic development project. In New Mexico, such funds would have to operate within the confines of LEDA, JTIP or another program that requires substantive contributions of the recipient company. LEDA is the authorizing legislation that requires job retention or creation when state dollars are provided to local jurisdictions to secure an economic development project. There is a twofold benefit from LEDA funds of both capital investment and job creation. It should be noted that LEDA statutes provide security for governmental aid to address losses to the state where the funds were not attached to any sort of claw back provision.

$2M to the Technology Research Collaborative
 
We support the funding request of $2 million to the Technology Research Collaborative, which was created last year. We believe it is imperative that the Legislature fund the collaborative in order to provide dollars to enterprising projects with commercial potential that result from the partnership of researchers at New Mexico’s laboratories, universities and the private sector. High tech businesses and the jobs they create are critical to the future economic success of New Mexico and are most likely to be successful when developed through the partnerships supported and funded through the collaborative.
  
Administration and LFC recommendation for $500K for New Mexico MainStreet programs.
 
The results of a study by PlaceEconomics, a Washington D.C. based real estate and economic development-consulting firm, found that for every $1 the State of New Mexico invested in the MainStreet program, MainStreet Districts saw private sector investment of $21.89 in building rehabilitation and $22.55 in new construction.  The study also found that since the start of the most recent recession, New Mexico MainStreet districts had net growth in jobs every year.

As demonstrated above, the MainStreet capital outlay projects have a successful record of leveraging other funds, creating and sustaining public-private partnerships and attracting numerous community volunteer hours. MainStreet communities are required to provide a cash and in-kind match to the proposed project and the MainStreet Program has a solid track record in administering capital outlay funds awarded to communities based on prioritized MainStreet District Master Plan.

$100K for state certified business incubators

Statistics indicate that if every small business in the U.S. began in a business incubator the survival rate of these businesses would nearly double. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration only 44% of new small businesses survive (at least four years). Incubated businesses have a survival rate of 87%.
 
Recognizing the importance of small businesses to New Mexico’s economic growth, the Legislature created the business incubator program in 2005. The legislation established criteria an organization and facility must meet in order to become a certified business incubator in New Mexico. The certification process and requirements provide “best practice” standards to insure the sustainability of the incubator. There are currently five active certified incubators in New Mexico:
• South Valley Economic Development Center
• WESST Enterprise Center
• Santa Fe Business Incubator
• Enterprise Center at San Juan College
• Arrowhead Technology Incubator
 
During fiscal years 2007-2010 these five incubators received $548,600 from the State. The return on this investment is significant. A 2011 economic impact study indicated a cost benefit ratio for this funding of 57 to 1, or $57.49 for each $1 of State funding. Estimated tax revenues generated by incubator tenant and graduate businesses over the four-year period to the State of New Mexico were $31,502,863 and to local taxing districts $20,494,596 for a total tax revenues of  $51,997,459. The economic impact of the tenants and graduates of the five incubators in one year, 2011, totaled nearly $13 million.
 
 SB9 Creation of a One Stop Business Portal for all fees/filings.
 
SB 9 (Sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Mary Kay Papen, D-Dona Ana) seeks to establish a statewide one-stop web-based portal where businesses can file all the registration, licensing and permitting forms as well as pay all fees required to do business in New Mexico.  Currently, businesses must register with at least four agencies.  18 states have moved to this approach.  The NMCEA strongly supports this bill as an important thread in creating the fabric of a business friendly climate.  To keep competitive with other states we must move New Mexico in this direction. 
 
$6M for construction of the southern access road to Spaceport America to develop the full economic value of the Spaceport facility (capital outlay)
 
The NMCEA supports planning, design and construction of the southern access road to Spaceport America in Dona Ana and Sierra counties.  Specifically, the chamber supports Sec. 27 of HB 55 that would appropriate $6M for this purpose.  To realize the full commercial and tourism benefits of the Spaceport, this road is highly necessary and should be a priority investment for the state.
 
HEALTHCARE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
The NMCEA supports several initiatives (discussed below) to increase the number of health care providers practicing in our state.  New Mexico has faced a shortage of providers, especially in rural areas, for quite some time.  With the expansion of Medicaid and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, more individuals will be seeking care.  The benefits of having insurance can only be realized if there are care providers available. 
 
This situation, however, presents a real economic development opportunity.  Health care jobs are higher paying and permanent.  Meeting the health care needs of our citizens can also help meet their employment needs provided the training and infrastructure can be put in place.   We support the Administration funding recommendations because they generally are higher than those proposed by the LFC.  (The amounts below are administration recommended amounts).  We appreciate, however, that in most cases both entities are supporting significant funding.  Our concern is that in order to meet increased health care demands we must fund programs at scale to make the maximum impact in the minimum amount of time.
 
Support
 
 Administration and LFC proposals to expand training of nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, dentists and nurse educators

$1.5M to double awards for loan for service/repayment programs for nurses and 6 new dental slots through the WICHE program
 
The goal is to add 720 new primary care practitioners in 10 years.  These financial assistance programs help qualified candidates receive the necessary education and training.  Participation in these programs is tied to a commitment to serve in rural communities for a period of time.

$750K for 7 new family practice residency slots at UNM
 
Increasing the number of family practice physicians is critical to meeting the increased demand for medical services.

$1.6M for 24 additional nurse practitioner slots at UNM
 
Nurse practitioners are a critical piece in delivering primary care, especially in rural areas.  Working under the supervision of a physician, nurse practitioners can meet many of the patients’ needs in a cost effective manner.

Increase in number of nursing educators
 
The shortage of nursing educators is more acute than the shortage of nurses.   
Expanding the availability of financial assistance to practicing nurses who wish to obtain advanced degrees and become nurse educators along the lines proposed last year by Representative Terry McMillan (R-Dona Ana) in HB 204 would increase the pool of potential nurse educators. 
 
Administration and LFC proposal for voluntary community health worker certification

$500 K for statewide training/voluntary certification for community health workers
 
This initiative would be the first of its kind in New Mexico, offering a voluntary certification system for community health care workers.  Certified workers are eligible for Medicaid funding.  These workers assist in patient care, for example, in helping patients manage diabetes.  With the help of the workers, patients improve their health while avoiding costly trips to the emergency rooms or hospitalization.  Thus, patients benefit and the cost of health care is reduced.     
 
Administration proposal for attracting and retaining healthcare professionals.

$600K for expansion of tele-medicine to rural area patients and doctors .
 
Tele-medicine allows specialists to be “virtually” with a patient and their primary care provider though they may be hundreds of miles apart.  Moreover, this often saves the patient from having to travel long distances to receive care.  The funds would be used to purchase and install equipment and computer technology such as teleconferencing video systems.  Health care provider organizations would apply for grants.  UNM’s Project ECHO serves as a very successful model.

Recruitment of nurse practitioners to New Mexico at $220K
 
New Mexico has very favorable licensure provisions for nurse practitioners moving in from out of state and the climate for nurse practitioners to apply their profession is also very favorable.  Therefore, a marketing and promotional program should be initiated to attract these professionals to our state.

Streamlining licensure system for nurses relocating to New Mexico
 
The goal is to attract nurses from outside New Mexico to move here by offering an easy way to become licensed in New Mexico without having to go through total recertification.
 
Administration proposal for increased funding of nursing homes and the behavioral health network

$25M to support nursing home operations/behavioral health network
 
Through savings achieved by Medicaid expansion, additional support can be provided to the truly vulnerable by increasing nursing home reimbursements and transitional living and employment support for behavioral health patients. 
 
Fully funding the Sole Community Provider program
 
A significant issue for this session involves fully funding the Sole Community Provider program. It is critical for all entities involved in funding this program to come together in order to ensure that hospitals across the state are fully funded if they are to remain open. Many smaller or rural community hospitals are at risk of closing leaving their communities and surrounding areas without access to care. The loss of healthcare provision also carries a staggering toll in terms of economic development and sustainability. Without healthcare, there will be a direct loss of jobs at the hospital, businesses will close and people will move to areas that have healthcare facilities. It should also be noted that this situation will place an additional burden on those healthcare facilities in the metropolitan areas.
 
 
WATER
Support
Administration recommendation targeting 60% ($112M) Capital Outlay for Water Infrastructure
 
The Governor’s recommendation is a first, significant step in the long process of ensuring sufficient water resources to support business location and expansion.  The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the cost of bringing New Mexico’s aging water infrastructure up to snuff at over $1 Billion.  And, this doesn’t count projects necessary to increase water supply.  Capital outlay expenditures need to be concentrated, prioritized and deployed at scale in order to accomplish big projects that can truly make a difference in the state’s economic fabric.  Existing funding mechanisms are insufficient to address the magnitude of the problem and federal dollars are “drying up”. 
 
The Environment Department has solicited proposals from throughout the state and will develop a recommended list of projects based on those projects’ ability to improve the amount and quality of drinking water as well as the economic development effects.  The State Engineer is making recommendations concerning dams in the state.
 
Projects will focus on four principal areas:
 
1.  Restoring watersheds damaged due to fire and flood.
2.  Dam repairs needed due to neglect.
3.  Resolving contaminated drinking water problems (about 36 communities in New Mexico).
4.  Building infrastructure to ensure a community doesn’t go dry. 
 
Some criticism has been made of this proposal.  It is claimed that about $100M exists in unspent water project funds.  According to the Environment Department, there is $105M not yet spent but those funds are fully obligated:  $75M in executed or nearly executed loan agreements and $19M pending final contract approval.  Moreover, these funds are only available for waste water treatment (sewage) and do not address the need for water supply and improvement of water quality.  Also suggestions have been made that other bonding capacity of the state be used for water projects.  Generally speaking, most of these funds are committed or dedicated to other purposes.    
 
Administration recommendation for $2M for water research at New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute
The Institute, which is located at NMSU, is a collaborative between all the research universities.  This level of funding would quadruple the existing budget allowing the Institute to develop a water budget for the state and for the universities to explore how technology can improve the way in which we use water. 

Administration recommendation for $250K for Water Technical Assistance Fund
This fund will allow the state to provide money to small communities that lack the resources to acquire professional technical assistance needed to resolve water shortage or quality problems.  This will position smaller communities to be better able to utilize other loan and grant funds.  This fund will likely be administered by the Environment Department.

Administration recommendation of $200K for Dry Community Water Emergency Fund
This fund will allow the state to provide emergency water to communities that run dry.  Currently, there is no such fund and the Governor believes that it is very necessary, particularly to help small, rural communities that lack the resources to respond.  It is likely this fund will be administered by the Homeland Security Department, which is well positioned to quickly marshal the resources, such as water trucks, and the personnel needed to respond to an emergency situation.  

STATE FY15 BUDGET
 
Support

LFC recommended minimum reserves of 9.5%
As the LFC has stated, “A 9.5% reserve represents a cautious approach that reflects continuing concerns about unresolved issues on the federal level, the still undetermined cost of reconciling the state’s cash, and the potential loss of federal special education money.”  In addition, New Mexico’s economy is recovering at a slow place and is particularly vulnerable to future economic downturns.  Consequently, the NMCEA continues to support the need for a significant reserve to protect the state’s financial position should negative events occur.  The NMCEA can support a 9.5% reserve but that should be considered the absolute minimum required.  The NMCEA appreciates the Administration’s goal of achieving a 10% reserve. 

LFC recommended 1.5% salary increase for all state employees and teachers but not at the expense of underfunding education reform and economic development
Last year, state employees received a 1% across the board after several years of no increases due to the recession’s adverse effect on state revenues.  While the state is far from full recovery, there are sufficient funds available to provide a modest increase to state employees and teachers.  The NMCEA believes this recommended increase is necessary as part of a larger need to attract and retain qualified employees, provided that such increase does not result in underfunding either economic development or public education.  The DFA proposes no across the board increase.  

Administration and LFC recommendations for additional compensation for positions with critical recruitment/retention issues including state police, correctional officers and protective services workers
Both the DFA and the LFC recognize the need to address the problem of attracting and retaining qualified employees in certain areas.  The LFC recommends $40M in “discretionary funds” to be used by state agencies and school districts to address this problem.  The LFC also recommends $3M for adjusting state police compensation, $2M for “certain positions with compensation issues” and $1M to the Children Youth and Families Department to address positions in the child protective services and juvenile justice areas. 

The DFA recommends $4.5M to address state police issues and $9.0M to reform the classification structure for correctional officers, protective services employees, IT workers, and health and engineering professionals.  The DFA estimates this will affect approximately 30% of the state’s workforce.  The Governor’s intent is to address other needs in the next one to two years with an emphasis on reforming classification structures to ensure that attraction and retention goals are met.

The NMCEA supports the efforts of both the Administration and the Legislature to come to grips with this issue and urges bipartisan negotiations to reach a balanced compromise.  Additional benefits of resolving this issue include reducing unnecessary overtime, improving efficiency by having the right people in the right jobs and reducing high vacancy rates in critical positions.

Capital outlay funding for major infrastructure projects to promote economic growth
The NMCEA encourages the State to implement a capital outlay budget system under which capital outlay expenditures are evaluated and prioritized according to objective criteria and critical need. Determination of the use of capital outlay funds should be done in a strategic manner in order to meet critical needs throughout the State. We continue in our support of this approach. 
In her signing message of last year’s capital outlay bill, the Governor said,  “It should be the goal of every legislator to work together to make critical improvements to the infrastructure of our state–which often serves as the foundation and pathway for commerce and economic growth.” 
The NMCEA believes that strong bi-partisan support is needed to go beyond local projects and focus on those that will make a strategic impact on the state’s economy.
  
Oppose

Any General Fund Tax increases

While the state’s economy is beginning to recover, our employment levels are still far below pre-recessionary levels.  Given New Mexico’s dependence on federal spending, further federal budget cuts will adversely affect our economic recovery.  The solution must be found in stimulating private sector growth.  Tax increases do exactly the opposite.  They discourage businesses from investing and consumers from spending.  Tax increases are clearly the wrong direction for our state and the NMCEA will vigorously oppose any such proposals.

Any use of Permanent Fund or other fund dollars for purposes not intended
The Permanent Funds were designed to support the beneficiaries established in our constitution and serve as an endowment should our extractive minerals disappear some day.  The NMCEA opposes any effort to the amend the constitution that would result in tapping into these funds for purposes not currently specified in the constitution or at distribution rates that would undermine the long-term solvency of these funds.  Moreover, difficult economic times sometimes result in “creative” approaches to state finances that, in the long-term, would be bad fiscal policy for the state.  We oppose any such proposals as well.

Reinstatement of Gross Receipts Tax on food sales
As stated above, we oppose any general fund tax increase.  In 2004, the Legislature repealed the GRT on most food items purchased by consumers for home consumption.  Because this repeal would have caused a loss of revenue to local governments, the Legislature enacted a “hold harmless” provision that, essentially, reimbursed them for the loss.

In last year’s tax reform package, the Legislature decided to phase out the hold harmless reimbursements over a 17-year period and to allow municipalities the option of increasing the local GRT 3/8 of one percent  (at 1/8 increments).  The municipalities are opposed to this phase out.
According to The Municipal League of New Mexico’s website, “At its October 5 meeting, the Board made amending the phase-out of the hold harmless distribution contained in the 2013’s House Bill 641 the League’s main priority.  The League will seek to allow a distribution to municipalities that enact all of the 3/8ths percent new local gross receipts tax if the new tax does not generate enough revenue to equal the current hold harmless distribution.”

 “Additionally, the League will support legislation to return food to the gross receipts tax base for local gross receipts tax rates, including the 1.225 percent. This proposal also calls for legislation that would increase the Low Income Tax Credit, repeal of the Hold Harmless Distribution in one year instead of 17 and reduce the state tax rate from 5.125 percent to 5 percent.”

While we understand the League’s position and its concern for its members’ budgetary issues, we believe the Legislature’s tax reform actions were fair and balanced and have provided municipalities with the means to largely offset the loss of hold harmless reimbursements.  Moreover, the long phase-in period should allow ample time for municipalities to make gradual budget adjustments and to benefit from revenue growth derived from a growing economy.   In addition, placing the GRT on food can disproportionately affect those on fixed incomes and working families ineligible to receive government assistance.

NEW MEXICO PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATION
 
New Mexico’s public education system is the key component in the future success of both our children and our state. We need to maintain a dedicated focus on improving public education as well as a commitment to funding that improvement. A quality education is the birthright of every child in New Mexico and a well-educated work force is essential if New Mexico is to attract new businesses to our state as well as increase the expansion of existing businesses.  As we continue to work toward creating a sustainable environment for business growth, particularly in the technology transfer and commercialization technology areas, we must ensure that the Pre- K-12 education system is graduating young people fully prepared to enter higher education or the workplace armed with the education and tools necessary to meet the requirements for high paying jobs.

“BELOW THE LINE” FUNDS
The NMCEA supports identifying and giving more financial support to struggling schools which we believe is the only way to help students in those schools reach proficiency. Initiatives funded “below the line” mean this funding is not distributed through the funding formula. Rather, these funds are used in a more targeted fashion to reach those schools and students most in need. Additionally, these funds require a higher degree of accountability in terms of results.  The NMCEA supports “below the line” funding, especially for the purposes outlined in these proposals. 

Support

Confirmation of Hanna Skandera as Secretary of Education
Ample hearings have been and held and overwhelming information and testimony demonstrates that Hannah Skandera is more than qualified to serve as Secretary.  More importantly, her excellent work for the last three years demonstrates her full competency.  It is time to confirm her as the Secretary of the Public Education Department. 

Administration and LFC recommendation to increase minimum starting teachers’ salaries
In an effort to attract and retain more teachers, the administration and LFC have recommended an increase in the minimum salary for Level I teachers. There is some disparity in the amount of funding recommended with the Administration requesting $6.5M for FY15 and the LFC recommending $4.537M. 
 
A number of districts have indicated that the current starting salary is simply not competitive with those in other occupations. The NMCEA supports this funding increase believing that it will help in attracting and retaining qualified teachers in New Mexico.  If the funding is provided, it would affect approximately 2,000 existing teachers across the state. We urge legislators as they move through the budget this session to reach agreement on the number.
 
Administration of $15.5M below the line and LFC recommendation of $13.5M below the line for New Mexico Reads to Lead
 
It has long been recognized that the ability to read well at the third grade level is a barometer for success in not only a child’s remaining education years, but throughout their life. We strongly support the New Mexico Reads to Lead initiative focus on instruction and intervention for students up through Grade 3.  The NMCEA thanks the LFC for its recommendation of funding for this program at $13.5M, a higher level than last year. However, we believe the extra $2M in the Administration’s recommendation of $15.5M would go a long way to ensuring the success of this critical program.
 
This funding will provide for reading coaches and interventions for struggling students as well as common formative assessments to identify struggling readers starting in kindergarten and going through Grade 3. Additionally, funding in this category will provide professional development for teachers, coaches and administrators on how to intervene with struggling readers in a manner as to be effective in providing support and increasing reading skills. Children who read succeed.
 
LFC recommendation of $25.95M below the line for Kindergarten-Three-Plus
 
Funding for K-3 at $25.95M as recommended by the LFC and supported by the NMCEA will provide for extension of the school year for K-3 students with an emphasis on literacy and common core standards instruction. We support this effort to provide K-3 students with a greater opportunity to focus on improving their reading skills as well as additional classroom time to work on other common core education areas. At the end of the day, every dollar spent and opportunity provided to focus on reading and other basic core curriculum subjects during these early primary years will pay off with multiple dividends in later school years.
 
LFC recommendation of $22.45M below the line for Pre-kindergarten
 
The LFC has recommended $22.45M to fund PreK and we concur with and support that recommendation.   This funding will provide access to all districts and charter schools that have requested funding for PreK programs. The importance of PreK in determining a successful long term student outcome can never be overstated and it is critical that all districts and schools within those districts have an equal opportunity to meet the needs of PreK aged children in their respective communities. The NMCEA supports Pre-K initiatives. 
  
Administration recommendation for $12.1M below the line for a pilot project to reward highly effective teachers and school leaders
The NMCEA supports programs, which identify, recruit and reward effective teachers and principals. A quality teacher in the classroom is the most important factor in how well a child succeeds and those teachers who have excelled in their schools and districts deserve to be recognized. Principals provide the leadership necessary to create an environment that supports both children and teachers. Those who excel should also be recognized.
This funding would establish a pilot program in which school districts may choose to participate to provide monetary stipends to their district’s highest performing and most effective teachers and principals. The program would be based on locally designed reward systems with results from the pilot programs used to assist policy makers in determining how to potentially implement a statewide effort to support our most effective teachers and school leaders.

Administration recommendation of $29M below the line for New Mexico Graduates Now, Parent Portal, struggling schools support, and teacher/school leader education and preparation and New Mexico Teach Evaluation system
These proposals by the Public Education Department address critical needs of schools, educators, parents and students throughout the state. Funding them fully is truly important and the NMCEA urges legislators to review these programs and support these initiatives for their constituent school districts.  It will make a difference in the future success of their students. 

$4M for New Mexico Graduates Now programs below the line
This category includes specific funding for a number of very important programs. $500K is targeted for an additional five Early College High Schools, which support the partnership between local business organizations, school districts and institutions of higher learning. Additional funding would be provided to 1) workforce readiness pre-apprenticeship and career technical education programs, 2) additional AP teacher professional development as well as test fee waivers for low income students, 3) incentives for high schools and teachers to increase participation and success in AP (Advanced Placement), 4) early warning drop out system and 6) access for all students in the 10th grade to take either the PSAT or PLAN based on district choice. All of these initiatives have proven successful in retaining students in school while better preparing them to enter college or career pathways. We have support these programs.

$1.5M for Parent Portal below the line
Funding for the Parent Portal will provide resources for local school districts to create interactive websites where teachers can post classroom information, homework assignments, grades, behavior assessments and attendance records thus allowing parents access to important information related to their child or children. Informed parents are better able to assist their children, work with their children’s teachers and intervene in an appropriate and timely fashion in the event their children are struggling. This is an important piece in the overall effort to help students, teachers and parents work together to move a student toward success and is supported by the NMCEA.

$9M for interventions for struggling “C”, “D” and “F” schools below the line
The NMCEA supports funding in this category, which would provide support for school leaders and instructional teams as they participate in comprehensive school turnaround activities. Continuation of principal mentoring programs, which match high performing schools with low-performing schools and provide a stipend for principals to mentor their colleagues, is also a component of this initiative. Additionally, support for struggling schools that are providing for innovative, local solutions to close the achievement gaps within those schools are included in the funding language.

$8.5M for Next Generation School Teacher and Leader Preparation
This funding, while under the Public Education Department’s budget, would be used to provide additional teacher and school leader education and preparation at UNM.

$6M for New Mexico Teach Evaluation system
New Mexico Teach is the evaluation portion of the NMTEACH Educator Effectiveness System and is comprised of 3 categories: Observations, locally adopted Multiple Measures and Improved Student Achievement. The funds at the highest level will be used to support TEACHSAT, which is an online tool for all information for evaluations, access to reports, and collection of observation data. The funds will also be used to provide more training for TEACHSCAPE and to provide onsite support for principals to assist them in doing their observations well. Support will also help make sure our districts know how to support teachers and principals. Finally, funds will provide an online platform so districts can administer “end of course” exams without having to use pen and paper to grade, but rather, can do grading automatically online.

Legislation to support teachers and improve school performance
Teachers and school districts are in need of support if they are to effectively meet their obligations to our children.  A shortage of qualified teachers especially in STEM categories must be addressed if students are to be fully prepared. The opportunity for highly effective teachers to move more quickly through the 3-tier licensure system as well as into school leadership positions helps ensure that school districts have the personnel they need to provide the education environment needed by their students.

Adjunct teacher licensure
Given the significant number of math and science teacher vacancies in 10 school districts in our state and the reality that many high school and mid-school teachers do not feel well-prepared to teach grade level content standards to their students, it is imperative that we identify means by which our students can receive the quality education they seek. New Mexico has many individuals whether from our national laboratories or businesses throughout the state that possesses solid content knowledge in those fields in which we experience shortages. We support legislation to allow content experts to teach in our public schools on a part-time basis.
 
Strict criteria have been set to ensure that only fully qualified individuals could be hired as adjunct teachers. We support HB139 introduced by Representative James E. Smith and SB57 introduced by Senator Phil Griego to create the adjunct instructors act.

Retention/recruitment of STEM teachers to schools lacking these instructors (budget item)
The NMCEA strongly supports funding for this initiative. New Mexico already faces significant shortages in the number of STEM teachers in our public school system. A number of teachers in the classroom in these content areas feel under qualified given the many advances in STEM content areas. These monies will be used to provide partnerships between teachers and students to support STEM courses, to recruit and retain highly qualified math and science teachers and to provide additional training for teachers already in the classroom teaching in these content areas.

Accelerated advancement through 3-tier licensure system for highly effective teachers
Currently, teachers advance over time through the three-tier licensure system, which pays teachers based on experience and the level of higher education attained. The criteria for advancement are not based on effectiveness in the classroom with students. We support legislation to implement a system that uses both subjective and objective measures to rate teachers on a five-point scale. This bill would create new licensure levels for teachers renamed Associate, Professional and Master’s teachers licensure levels as opposed to Levels I through III. Associate teachers would have mandatory mentoring and Masters level teachers would take on additional responsibilities acting as mentors and team leaders at their respective schools. The new levels would reflect not only years of experience, but more importantly, advancement based on effectiveness in the classroom to the benefit of students.  The NMCEA supports Senator Mark Moores’ SB105. 

Changes in criteria for administrator eligibility
Currently, six years of classroom experience is required before a New Mexico teacher can apply for an administrative role as a principal. Our neighboring states require only two or three years. Given the strong competition throughout our region for educational leaders, we support legislation to allow a teacher to become a principal after meeting the following criteria: 1) two years of teaching, 2) completion or enrollment in an administrator preparation program and 3) a rating of at least “effective” in their last two years of teaching.  We must not lose potential school leaders to other states; rather, we should expand the pool of professional leaders available to take our schools and districts to the highest level.  The NMCEA supports Senator Mark Moores’ SB104.
 
Legislation to support teacher and school performance
Two bills have been introduced that, if passed, can significantly improve future opportunities for our children by assisting those who are struggling and those who are moving toward dropping out.    
Dropout Prevention and Truancy Reduction (HB47/SB25)
 
We support dropout prevention and truancy reduction in an effort to increase graduation rates, decrease the number of dropouts and to prepare students for success in college or in a career. With 70 New Mexico students dropping out every single school day, we must intervene in a meaningful way to ensure that New Mexico’s children reach their full potential and are able to enter college or the workplace fully prepared to succeed.
 
We urge support for HB47 and SB25 carried by Representative Larry Larranaga and Senator Craig Brandt respectively. These pieces of legislation will provide habitually truant students with multiple opportunities and support to correct their behavior while also holding them accountable for their attendance choices. It should be noted that driver’s license or driver’s permit suspensions are an option only when all else has failed and the student chooses to remain a truant despite every opportunity to modify their choices. We do not see this as a punitive measure, but rather as an intervention to motivate students to make better choices that will prepare them for a successful and meaningful future.

Academic Success Through Remediation Act
The goal of this legislation is to ensure that all students are reading at grade level by the end of the 3rd Grade. Many long-term studies have demonstrated that children not reading at grade level by the 3rd Grade will lag behind for the remainder of their education years. This legislation is intended to ensure that all students, parents and teachers are given the tools necessary to succeed in reading. Early screening assessments will assist teachers in identifying students struggling to read and professional development and support will empower teachers to provide early intervention to assist children in need of additional support so that they may reach grade level proficiency.
 
Additionally, parents of struggling students will be provided strategies to help their children become better readers. For those children who may need an additional year to acquire the necessary and critical reading skills, intervention and retention are also options though parents will at the end of the day make the final decision regarding retention as an option for their child. For students with special circumstances, there will be alternative criteria for determining proficiency. The NMCEA very strongly supports this legislation being carried by Representative Mary Helen Garcia (HB93) and Senator Gay Kernan (SB45) and urges passage by the Legislature. This is the right thing to do for our children.    
 
NEW MEXICO TOURISM
Support

Administration and LFC appropriation of $2.5M in new money to Tourism Department for advertising
 
The NMCEA supports the request by the Tourism Department, supported by the Administration and LFC, to increase its marketing and promotion budget by $2.5M.  This would increase the base budget from $4.5M to $7.0M.  The bulk of the funds are used for the “New Mexico True” advertising campaign and cooperative promotional efforts such as that with Southwest Airlines.
 
Over the past three years, the Governor and the Legislature have supported a greatly expanded marketing and promotion budget for the Tourism Department, which has paid off handsomely.  Last year, the state achieved its highest number of travelers and the highest amount of tourist dollars spent.  Expanding into the Chicago media market as well as implementing a campaign featuring New Mexico as a premier winter destination were major contributors to this accomplishment. 
 
Return on investment analyses demonstrate that promotional dollars are, in fact, producing a significant reward for our state.  Employment in the tourism industry is above pre-recession levels.  Additional funding will be used to shore up existing programs and, possibly, expand into new media markets such as San Diego.  The balance of the department’s budget is flat. 
 
HIGHER EDUCATION
Support

Administration recommendation to reform Higher Education Endowment Fund and provide $7.5 M in endowment funds
 
Currently, the Higher Education Endowment Fund process is non-competitive with available funds given out in a somewhat formulaic manner. Additionally, there is little accountability as to how the funds are used. The NMCEA supports the reforms promoted by the Governor to create a process whereby the universities will compete for the funds as well as ensure that the Endowment funds are properly matched and used for their intended purpose, i.e. to create endowed chairs in science, health, math and associated critical fields.  We need to attract better professors in order to attract better students and achieve more innovation. If the statutes are re-written, universities would come before a board to justify the use of their funds to ensure, for example, that the funds will not go to increase salaries, but will be used to create a new endowed chair.   
 
The NMCEA supports the DFA request for $7.5M to provide funding for endowed chairs through, a hopefully enacted, reform process which will require competition and focus the funds on recruiting researchers, scientists and professors whose work can aid economic development especially in the high tech arena and through association with the national laboratories.
 
LFC and DFA $11M to meet Legislative Lottery Scholarship obligations for spring semester
 
Both the LFC and administration have recommended an infusion of $11M into the Legislative Lottery Scholarship in order to meet scholarship demands for the 2014 spring semester. The goal is to ensure that the lottery scholarship is made solvent. Recognizing that additional funds may be necessary to achieve this objective, the Administration has requested an additional $6M above the $11M. The NMCEA supports both the $11M LFC and Administration request as well as the additional $6M requested by the Administration. We recognize that this is a this temporary “fix”, and urge the Legislature to work together and with the Executive during this session to address the serious fiscal concerns associated with the lottery program and to identify and implement more stringent guidelines in order to reestablish and maintain the solvency of the fund.
 
In-state tuition for international STEM/business students
 
SB 8 (sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Mary Kay Papen, D-Dona Ana, and Representative Dennis J. Roch, R-Colfax, Curry, Harding, Quay, Roosevelt, San Miguel and Union) would allow UNM, NMSU, Western, Eastern, Highlands and Tech to offer international students in undergraduate STEM and business studies, tuition at in-state (resident) rates provided the number of international students receiving discounted rates does not exceed 5% of the undergraduate population, the students are residents of New Mexico during the course of study and sign a letter of intent to remain in New Mexico post graduation.  $5M is appropriated to reimburse the universities for loss of revenue.
In its Fall 2013 publication, “Addressing New Mexico’s Jobs Crisis”, Think New Mexico provides a detailed discussion of this issue.  Among the highlights are:

Immigrants are more than twice as likely to start new businesses as native-born Americans.Business startups and small businesses are the largest source of new job creation.
Immigrants founded 18% of Fortune 500 companies and 22.8% were founded by children of immigrants.

STEM entrepreneurs start businesses that typically result in higher paying jobs because they are technology oriented.
The state of North Dakota was facing significant outmigration and offered in-state tuition to all comers (out of state and international).Since 2000, they increase their non-resident enrollment by 40%.
North Dakota, (described in the report as “flat, cold and landlocked”), is finding that many of these students are staying and starting businesses.With a much more attractive climate and geographic location, New Mexico should fare even better.
 
As we all know, producing more STEM graduates is a key to our state’s economic development, innovation and entrepreneurship.  We believe this idea is worth a try.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS
Support

Streamline traditional telephone service regulation to enhance customer choice and promote investment in newer technologies for the state’s largest incumbent providers

The modern telecommunications marketplace is dynamic and ever changing driven largely by new technology.  This marketplace has evolved from single companies providing landline telephone service, heavily regulated by government, to a free market place full of new offerings and a multitude of competitors many of which are unregulated.  Increasingly, consumers are moving away from traditional landline telephone service.  For example, in the geographic areas served by CenturyLink, 43% of customers are cell phone users only. 
The “old” or traditional telephone companies are engaging in competition for new services such as wireless and broadband.  However, traditional phone service provided by these companies remains heavily regulated in New Mexico but under different sets of regulation depending on the size of the company.  Moreover, cable companies and other “new” providers of traditional telephone service are unregulated.  

The Chamber supports legislation sponsored by Senate Corporations Committee Chair Phil Griego (D-Bernalillo, Lincoln, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Torrance and Valencia) at the request of CenturyLink that would place all traditional phone companies under the same set of regulations.  Currently small rural, midsize and large companies operate under different sets of regulations; large companies having the least flexibility. 
Senator Griego’s legislation is not aimed at deregulating traditional telephone service provided by the traditional companies.  It simply seeks to place one uniform set of regulations in place for all landline telephone service provided by traditional providers (it would not apply to new providers such as cable companies) regardless of the size of company providing the service.  In other words, it seeks parity in regulatory treatment among the traditional providers.  The PRC would retain regulatory oversight using the same rules for everyone.  Moreover, any proposed increases to residential rates would first have to be approved by the PRC.

Currently, CenturyLink must meet the highest service performance standards subject to substantial penalties.  Midsize and rural companies are not subject to these same standards.  In order to meet these standards, CenturyLink must overinvest in maintaining a declining business – landline telephone service – to the detriment of investing more in broadband service.  If Senator Griego’s legislation is passed, parity in regulation will allow more investment in new technologies and more choices for consumers.  Also, additional pricing flexibility would allow promotional offers to be made to landline customers to attract or retain their business.  This also benefits consumers.  The Chamber believes that this is an important step in modernizing the state’s telecom regulations and should be enacted.  

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
 
An inordinate number of joint resolutions have been pre-filed in this legislative session including 6 in the House and 12 in the Senate with more possible. Most constitutional amendments begin life as a legislative joint resolution, which if passed by a two-thirds majority in each house of the legislature are then placed before the voters usually at the next general election though a special election can be called if necessary.  The Governor has no role in accepting or rejecting joint resolutions.  This is often called “piecemeal” amending and is the most common way in which the state’s constitution is amended. 
 
It should be noted that many joint resolutions are introduced to amend the New Mexico Constitution because some change requested by a legislator cannot be done statutorily and is specifically intended to alter existing language in the Constitution. However, just as often a joint resolution is introduced to address an issue that, in fact, can be dealt with and should be dealt with statutorily. Certainly minimum wage and classroom size would fit in the latter category.  We believe it is inappropriate to attempt to add issues such as minimum wage and classroom size to the New Mexico constitution. The Constitution is a framework for the governance of our state. It is not a document in which the details of governance are to be written. That is the function of our state statutes.
 
 
Oppose
 
HJR3 and SJR12 to indefinitely extend an additional annual distribution from the Land Grant Permanent Fund for teachers’ salaries, education reform and early childhood programs.
 
The NMCEA opposes extending an additional distribution from the Land Grant Permanent fund for new education measures, increased teachers’ salaries and early childhood programs. HJR3 calls for ½% additional distribution while SJR12 calls for a 1 ½% additional distribution, both of which we oppose. The fund was intended as a source of revenue for the education of future generations of New Mexicans. To continue to invade the fund would result in a significant reduction to the corpus of the fund over ensuing years leaving the fund less solvent and the Legislature less able to meet its commitment to the children of New Mexico.  While we support providing for early childhood education and programs, it should be noted that many of the programs to which the funds would go either lack the capacity to spend significant additional money effectively or the programs are unproven at this time.  We believe that funding increases should come from traditional sources at a rational and gradual pace to both build capacity and effectiveness including the ability to better measure the results.
 
HJR4 and SJR2 to eliminate the cabinet level Department of Education and replace it with a State Board of Education and Superintendent of Education
 
The NMCEA strongly opposes these two legislative resolutions. We cannot support a return to a failed education system. Our children deserve better and the economic future of our state is dependent on our staying committed to the current education governance structure.
 
Proponents for this initiative assert that student performance is greatly increased with smaller classroom sizes. However, recent research has found that smaller class sizes make little to no difference in student achievement. Benchmarking of successful schools has found the key is effective teachers, not classroom size.
 
As for the fiscal implications if this resolution were to pass, the sheer costs of adding over 3000 additional teachers and teachers’ aides as well as the capital needed to construct new classrooms plus increased operating and maintenance costs, are staggering. 
 
Additionally, we have to keep in mind that the state budget is tight and there are many needs to be addressed throughout the state.  We must focus the available resources where they will be the most effective.  Reducing classroom size is the most expensive educational reform.  Targeting money to early childhood education, early reading interventions and rewarding effective teachers is much more cost and performance effective.
 
SJR8 to expand the duties, functions and powers of the current Public Education Commission
 
This joint resolution would amend the New Mexico Constitution to give the State Education Commission, which is currently in the Constitution as an advisory body to the Public Education Department, the sole authority to render a final decision on policy matters related to charter schools. The NMCEA opposes this change to the Constitution. The Secretary of Education must have final authority over all decisions within the Public Education Department. There can be no satisfactory outcome for public education in general and charter schools specifically when one entity, which has the responsibility to manage charter schools can be superceded in the decision process by an otherwise advisory commission.
 
 
SJR13 to raise the minimum wage
 
The NMCEA opposes any effort to further raise the minimum wage. New Mexico’s economy is still recovering from the severe downturn in the national economy as well as federal government sequestration cuts. The reality is that further cuts are to be expected. In addition, the Affordable Care Act requires businesses to provide additional costly benefits to their employees beginning this year. Employers simply cannot absorb another additional increase to their cost of doing business while they are also dealing with significantly lower profit margins and struggling just to keep their doors open. Imposing a further increase at this time can only result in more New Mexicans losing their jobs.
 
 
Questions?
Call:
Terri Cole, President, NMCEA and President/CEO Greater Alb Chamber of Commerce, 505-239-6553
Bill Allen, President-Elect, NMCEA and President/ CEO Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, 575-524-1968
Bill Lee, Immediate Past President, NMCEA and President/ CEO of Gallup McKinley County  Chamber of Commerce, 505- 722-2228
Scott Terry, Board Member, NMCEA and President /CEO Silver City Grant County Chamber of Commerce, 575-538-3785
 
 

Member News Items


GREATER ALBUQUERQUE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE SEEKING SVP OF PUBLIC POLICY

The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, the state’s largest business organization, has an exciting opportunity for a dynamic individual as Sr. Vice President of Public Policy and Leadership who will help advance the business community’s objectives and shapes public policy to create a place for bus...iness to grow and prosper and for people to raise their families. Reports to the President/CEO.

The person selected for this position will manage public policy planning councils, the Leadership Albuquerque Programs and issue related events and supervise division responsible for Albuquerque Reads, Small Business and Networking events.
The successful candidate will have 3-5 years experience in public policy, event management exceptionally strong writing and communication skills, the ability to handle complex issues, demonstrated lobbying and advocacy skills at the state and local level, management experience and have worked successfully with volunteers. Must be flexible, organized, focused, self-starter and have the ability to work quickly and successfully in a high paced, changing environment.
Degree or equivalent experience acceptable. Salary is $60,000 to $70,000 DOE with benefits.
Please send cover letter and resume to Human Resources Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, 115 Gold St SW Suite 201, Albuquerque, NM 87102 or fax to 764-3714 or e-mail to jhoneycutt@abqchamber.com by February 7, 2014. EOE

Candidates should meet these minimum qualifications for consideration:
  • 3-5 Years in Public Policy and Event management
  • Strong writing and communication skills
  • Successful lobbying and advocacy experience
  • Volunteer management
  • Bachelors degree or higher preferred

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