New Mexico Democratic Legislators Roll Out Jobs Package to Jump-Start Ailing Economy
Commentary: Democratic members of the New Mexico Senate and House announced their priority package of bills to create jobs and spur economic activity, following passage of an urgent $216 million solvency package to address the state’s budget shortfall. The six bills that the legislators vowed to pass expeditiously include capital outlay infrastructure, a minimum wage increase, broadband expansion, reform of local economic development funds, adjustments to job training programs, and green-lighting industrial hemp research in the state. Democratic legislators said the state’s second-worst in the nation unemployment rate at 6.6% made quick action to create jobs crucial.
“Today, families and young people in our state are confronted with poor prospects for getting a job. Far too many residents are living in real economic distress, and anxious about the future for themselves and their children. Democrats in the Legislature will take action to restore their hopes and dreams,” said Senator Clemente Sanchez, Chairman of the influential Senate Corporations and Transportations Committee.
Highlights of Democrats’ ‘New Mexico Jobs Now!’ Legislative Jobs Plan:
- Capital outlay Infrastructure – Infrastructure projects create needed jobs in local communities starting right away, when done correctly. Democrats in the Senate and House intend to pass a $63 million package of spending projects for infrastructure repairs and improvements. These projects will help stimulate the economy and create jobs in all parts of the state.
- Minimum Wage Increase: New Mexico suffers with some of the lowest median wages in the country. Democrats in the Legislature intend to pass a modest pay raise above the current $7.50 state-wide minimum wage to help the state’s lowest-paid workers – in this session. It’s long overdue, and families have waited long enough.
- Broadband: Democratic majorities in each chamber will pass legislation to significantly increase broadband access across New Mexico. Investments in broadband infrastructure can have real impact on jobs and business growth, especially in rural communities. Expanding access to broadband technology is a proven method to encourage job growth.
- Industrial Hemp Research: Democrats will pass legislation to lay the foundation for hemp industrialization in the state, and create jobs. New Mexico has a unique competitive advantage for growing industrial hemp, a low water crop that is perfect for the arid climate of the state. It has multiple commercial uses, and will stimulate the economies of rural communities..
- LEDA: Democrats plan to reform the way state Local Economic Development dollars are distributed, to make them work better for communities in our state. The intended legislation will assist existing, home-grown small businesses better access funds in order to grow and prosper.
- JTIP: Democrats intend to pass legislation to improve current state job training funds to better assist the growth and expansion of promising, home-grown businesses.
“There is a serious jobs crisis afflicting New Mexico today. We face major economic challenges, and these consensus measures will help put people in our state back to work quickly. Before we take action on any other legislation, we intend to put bills from these six legislative areas on an accelerated track. Our goal is to attract new jobs to, and expand existing businesses in New Mexico, right away,” said Senate Majority Floor Leader, Senator Peter Wirth.