When coronavirus cases started popping up in New Mexico, Cherie Montoya and her team came up with a plan to adapt. Farm and Table owner Cherie Montoya and her partner, Danny Lopez
They came up with a Plan B, Plan C and all the way to Plan F, she said. It was important that her employees knew what would happen next as New Mexico began to follow other states into the pandemic crisis. So when the governor ordered that all food-service establishments should move tables 6 feet apart from each other, Montoya moved to Plan B, even though that meant her Albuquerque-area restaurant, Farm and Table, couldn’t seat nearly as many people. When the governor ordered all restaurants to close to dine-in customers March 18, Montoya switched to Plan C and began offering family-style dinner packages to-go.
It’s like cruising along in a refurbished airplane, which works well enough, but isn’t shiny anymore, then looking down at a new plane and deciding to jump out to ride in that one instead. And you’ve got all the parts in your hands to make a parachute, but you’ve got to put them together on the way down. That’s how one coal miner says the planned shut down of the San Juan Generating Station and its associated mine feels right now. He was one of a trio of miners who drove the three and a half hours Thursday to tell lawmakers in Santa Fe not to forget their communities as the San Juan Generating Station is taken offline. Already, he’s transitioned his kids through a recent divorce, he told House Labor, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee members, and now he faces the end of his job sometime before the generating station shuts down in 2022 and the possibility of moving if he can’t find work.
The state land commissioner manages 9 million acres of surface land, and 13 million acres of mineral estate, with a mandate to maximize revenue from those acres through leases to pay for public schools and universities. Fossil fuels accounts for 92.7 percent of the revenue generated the office. Commissioner candidates talk about where renewable energy fits into the picture.
A couple of years ago a mother came to Ray Jaramillo, director of a childcare center in Las Cruces. She worked for minimum wage at Burger King, but was offered a supervisory position with better hours and a wage bump to over $9 an hour. She worried the extra money could cause her to lose childcare assistance for her two little girls. Between her and her spouse’s salary, their new earning power would push her family over the line for government-subsidized child-care. She had to figure out whether to take the promotion and risk paying thousands of dollars more each year for childcare, or forgo the extra family income.
In case you missed it, you should check out Heath Haussamen’s five-part series on Spaceport America that ran on nmpolitics.net last week. It’s informative, especially the revelations about how much Spaceport America staff is keeping from the public in violation of state transparency laws.
A gaping revenue shortfall and lack of reserves have New Mexico’s legislators worried about short-circuiting the progress of large investments made in early childhood and safety net programs in recent years. A steep decline in the price of oil has contracted an industry on which New Mexico relies heavily, leading to broad layoffs, sales of oilfield equipment, foreclosures and bankruptcies. That, in turn, has gutted the cash from tax revenues state leaders counted on to pay for state operations. State leaders emptied out the state’s reserve fund to balance last year’s budget. Now they must close this year’s shortfall — projected at $69 million — without a pot of money that has cushioned economic pain in previous economic downturns.
Top 10 individual New Mexico capital outlay project appropriations, 2010-2014:
$27.5 million for the Paseo Del Norte/Interstate 25 interchange (this is one of three appropriations for the interchange totaling more than $30 million)
$20.5 million for the renovation of Farris Engineering Building, University of New Mexico
$19.2 million for the renovation of Jett Hall, New Mexico State University
$19 million for demolition and renovation of Hardman and Jacobs Hall, New Mexico State University
New Mexico’s Capital Dilemma
Read the other articles in this series:
Explore our database of capital outlay projects
Analysis: Weaknesses mar NM’s capital outlay system
New Mexico’s Capital Dilemma methodology
$18 million for a geology facility, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
$17.3 million for Southwest Regional Spaceport (this is a 2012 reauthorization of a 2007 project, with some of the money forwarded to a 2014 project)
$16 million for Clark Hall renovation, University of New Mexico
$15 million for Chemistry Department facility construction, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
$13.6 million for Human Services Department information technology
$12 million for Health Science Center health education building, University of New Mexico
Bottom 10 individual New Mexico capital outlay project project appropriations, 2010-2014
$500 for equipment at the Ena Mitchell Senior & Wellness Citizens Center in Lordsburg
$570 for meals equipment at the Vaughn Senior Center
$840 for equipment at the Mora Senior Center
$900 for meals equipment at the Melrose Senior Center
(tie) $1,000 each for equipment at the Hobbs Senior Center, the Grants Senior Center and the Mitten Rock Senior Center
$1,100 for meals equipment at the Eunice Senior Center
$1,140 for equipment at the Ramah and Thoreau senior centers in McKinley County
(tie) $1,300 for equipment at the Clayton Senior Center and Logan Senior Center
This taboo of speaking about death is common among New Mexico’s tribal communities. Some people in and around Thoreau are pushing to change that after as many as 15 young people died by suicide in 2010.
While it might not seem like it from reading headlines day-in, day-out, the heart of journalism beats with hope. It is with that hope that NMID offers this series in a spirit of both humility and gratitude.