January 22 First News: Legislature Back to Business (Listen)

Jan 22, 2014

Governor Susana Martinez in her State of the State address Tuesday says that the two most pressing issues in New Mexico are jobs and education. Martinez said she wants to get New Mexicans ready for the workforce, and she wants to keep them here to work. Along with that, she said she wants to invest in small businesses.*****Martinez-4  :25*****  Senator Bill Soules, who provided the Democratic response, took note of the Governor's discussion of jobs. *****0122-Soules-2  :22***** The Governor's speech drew this comment from Santa Fe State Senator Peter Wirth; *****Wirth-1  :21***** Democratic Senator, Peter Wirth of Santa Fe. The Governor's speech began the Legislature's 30-day budgetary session.

The New Mexico Kids Count Report is out, and again, New Mexico ranked last in terms of child well-being for 2014. The report was released Tuesday, and it was no coincidence that it was timed for the day the legislature got back to work. New Mexico Voices for Children compiles the annual report, and its Director, Veronica Garcia, says the legislature, quote, “needs to make the appropriate investments in our children.” The report indicates nearly one-third of New Mexico’s children live in poverty, sixty percent live in low-income families and more than a third have parents without secure employment. Those are well above the national averages.

A new study from the Legislative Finance Committee says half of the New Mexico students attending the state's colleges and universities aren't ready academically and that it's costly for the state. The report shows 51 percent of the students needed remedial courses last year and that the cost was 22-million dollars. Nearly half of the remedial coursework is in math. Most of the rest was in English and reading.

Mora County has a new sheriff. The Las Vegas Optic reports that Amos Espinoza took the oath of office last week. Espinoza will fill out the remaining term of Thomas Garza, who resigned in December as part of a plea bargain stemming from tampering with public records and criminal solicitation charges. Espinoza says he is looking forward to serving as sheriff for the remaining 11 months of Garza's term.

Western New Mexico University is facing layoffs, higher tuition and consolidation of classes amid a budget crunch. The Albuquerque Journal reports that the Silver City-based university plans to slash spending by 4 percent and eliminate less popular courses. WNMU President Joseph Shepard says the changes are needed because a projected five percent increase in student enrollment did not materialize. He says the university by the end of this month will cut spending for the remainder of this budget year by more than one-point-three million dollars. Officials say cuts will probably be a combination of layoffs and letting some vacancies remain unfilled.

Santa Fe Weather: Mostly sunny today, with a high near 46. Tonight: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 21. Tomorrow: Partly sunny and high near 32 with a  20 percent chance of snow.