Up to 37,000 New Mexicans will lose food aid under stricter mandates approved Wednesday by the Trump administration, the governor’s office reported. Nearly 700,000 people will be affected across the U.S.
Currently, New Mexico waives work requirements statewide for able-bodied adults without children, but under the finalized rule change it will have less flexibility to do so going forward. Without that waiver, adults ages 18 to 49 can not receive SNAP benefits for more than three months in a three year period unless they work at least 20 hours a week or participate in a job training program. The number of recipients varies by month, but the state Human Services Department said 37,164 were eligible in October 2019. The change is likely to trim $5.5 billion from the federal food stamp program across the country over five years.
Searchlight New Mexico’s Amy Linn took a deep look this week at the state’s dismal record at persuading talented, educated young people to stay once they’re college graduates. The major stumbling block? There are plenty, but the one that appears to elbow all the rest out of contention for first-place honors is jobs, or, more precisely, the lack of them. To open the story Linn tells the story of an accomplished young man from Farmington who graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2014 with ample experience in his chosen field. But he couldn’t find the “right job,” so he moved to Ventura, California, to pursue a career.
New Mexico In Depth is speaking with the candidates for New Mexico governor on the issues of early childhood, child wellbeing and education in New Mexico. Jeff Apodaca of Albuquerque is a former media executive and is one of three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination. This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. Sylvia Ulloa: What would early childhood education in New Mexico look like in an Apodaca administration? And what is your plan for offering early childhood care and education in rural New Mexico, where they often lack infrastructure and access to skilled early childhood educators?
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.
Amber Wallin, Kids Count director for New Mexico Voices for Children, flashed up a photo on a screen during her presentation to childhood advocates and elected leaders in Las Cruces for the first Southern New Mexico Kids Count conference on Thursday. Anyone of a certain age would recognize the black and white photo of a motley bunch of kids in baseball uniforms: The Bad News Bears. Wallin said people in New Mexico were tired of being those Bears, tired of hearing the same old stats: 49th in child well-being, 50th in education, 49th in community and family. Some were tuning out, becoming numb, or throwing up their hands because it didn’t seem like there was anything they could do to change the situation. What is her answer to that? “Policy matters,” she said.
ALBUQUERQUE – With cuts and bruises on his face, back and shoulders, Jerome Eskeets frantically told police about the violent assault he barely survived the night before. In his 30s, Eskeets had been sleeping in an empty lot on Albuquerque’s west side with friends and relations, Allison Gorman and Kee Thompson, who like Eskeets were Diné, as members of the Navajo Nation call themselves. Soon after talking to Eskeets, police found Gorman’s and Thompson’s bludgeoned bodies. The 2014 crime shocked Albuquerque, the state and occasionally made national news as the cases against the three defendants eventually arrested in the brutal killings — youths Alex Rios, Nathaniel Carrillo and Gilbert Tafoya — worked their way through the court system. Three years later, the judicial system is nearing an end to the case.
New Mexicans on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to limit the role of money in judges’ decisions about which defendants stay locked up and which go free before trial. According to unofficial election results from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s website, roughly 87 percent, or 610,000 of 699,000 New Mexicans supported a change to the state constitution aimed at reforming the use of commercial bail.
Tom Chudzinski rode out of Albuquerque on a Greyhound bus before the sun rose one morning last month, his only remaining possessions tucked into a backpack, a small duffel bag and a cardboard box, which held his disassembled bicycle. The retired architect had pulled into Albuquerque five months earlier in a motorhome crowded with the keepsakes from his 62 years of life: power tools, drafting instruments, personal records and clothing. He was living in the home while traveling the western U.S.
The unraveling began on June 3, when Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies knocked on the door of his motorhome and, smelling alcohol on his breath, arrested him on suspicion of drunken driving. Although they hadn’t seen him driving, they believed he had crashed his RV into a parked vehicle at a truck stop that sits on a dusty patch of mesa on the city’s far west side. This story was produced in collaboration with Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
A member of an Albuquerque city committee charged with working with APD on mental health issues is confused by the department’s apparent conflicting responses after a reverse sting operation made news last month. On one hand there was a “productive” meeting with police officials who said the department would change how future sting operations are conducted. Police officers arrested of mostly homeless people, some struggling with mental illness. On the other, a letter about the reverse sting operation from Police Chief Gorden Eden days after the meeting reflected none of these promised changes.
Attorney General Hector Balderas’s office announced today it has cleared TeamBuilders and Pathways, the final two behavioral health organizations the state of New Mexico accused of ‘credible allegations of fraud’ in 2013. This is a developing story.
Chances are good that SJR1 will clear the House, too, a powerful lawmaker from that chamber said. “This is an issue on which we need to be pragmatists,” Republican House Majority Leader Nate Gentry of Albuquerque said. “We have a very delicate balance right now where we have the support of district attorneys. We have the support of the criminal defense attorneys. You don’t see that often.”