Commentary: This morning, Michelle Lujan Grisham and Howie Morales announced a plan to tackle New Mexico’s infrastructure needs, create jobs, make our roads safer, and build a strong economic backbone for the long term. With clear strategies to leverage state revenues and private investment to deploy strategically to the most important projects, Michelle and Howie continue to demonstrate that they are prepared to tackle the biggest issues facing New Mexico’s communities and economy.
“To build a vibrant economy across New Mexico we must act now to create a strong investment environment, and that begins with safe, reliable infrastructure,” said Michelle Lujan Grisham. “As governor, I’ll provide the leadership New Mexico needs to make the smart investments in transportation, schools, broadband, and water infrastructure because we can’t afford to wait any longer when it comes to these critical needs.
“Living in a rural New Mexico county I’ve experienced our state’s desperate need for real infrastructure investment firsthand, but in our administration, there will be no forgotten rural communities,” said Howie Morales. “I’m proud to announce our detailed plan to take the real steps New Mexico needs to build and stronger and safer future for all our children and families.”
New Mexico has over $6 billion in unmet infrastructure needs. With the state’s current revenue surplus and new leadership, we stand in an ideal position to begin to address these enormous needs in our schools, internet infrastructure, transportation, and water. With five clear steps, we can address New Mexico’s immense infrastructure needs that have gone too long neglected.
1: Take advantage of the state’s current revenue position to fund infrastructure needs now and position us better to fund them in the future, as well.
- New Mexico is currently seeing revenue windfalls that can play a key role in investing in infrastructure development. Michelle will work to invest a significant portion of our $1.2b in “new money” to rebuild our infrastructure.
- Use funds from New Mexico’s State Infrastructure bank to provide low-interest loans for infrastructure.
- Leverage potential federal funding to focus on our state’s most pressing needs. Michelle will work with our federal delegation to ensure that we can pass a smart federal program and use it to our advantage.
2: Improve the process for setting public investment priorities
- Appoint an Infrastructure Czar to oversee and expedite the entire public investment process.
- Ensure that our investment decisions are made on the basis of merit, not politics. Funding proposals should compete for funds on the basis of need and economic/community impact, not based on who has the best lobbyist.
- Encourage competition by soliciting innovative proposals and make sure that we invest in projects that can demonstrate future success.
- Encourage real community input by establishing community and Tribal advisory groups to work with the Legislature and state Department of Transportation to develop a unified priority list of school repair and modernization projects.
3: Make our taxpayer dollars go as far as possible
- Promote strong public-private partnerships to leverage more funding opportunities while protecting wages and workers’ rights.
- Utilize more cost-effective and safer construction materials to build cheaper, longer lasting transportation infrastructure.
- Invest in broadband access across New Mexico at low taxpayer cost. The state government can incentivize and help with the upfront financing of community broadband, which has paid for itself around the country with user fees that lower – for service that is generally better – than that provided by leading private broadband providers.
4: Develop our airports and railroads to promote economic development
- Support our aerospace infrastructure and create an airport authority in Roswell to expand air access across New Mexico.
- Maintain and improve our rail infrastructure to ensure that we continue to leverage this important asset to New Mexico’s economy.
5: Create a strategy for north-south trade in North America to come through New Mexico’s intermodal transport system from the Mexican border.
- We will invest particularly in a comprehensive plan to address needs at our ports of entry and look at our transportation and border infrastructure as a complete system.
Information from: New Mexicans For Michelle