The governor’s campaign commitment to economic and environmental justice and a laser-focus on diversifying the state’s economy was well-received in Las Cruces and other parts of Southern New Mexico, and we’re looking for big results in the upcoming legislative session.
The Las Cruces economy is much too reliant on the public sector, with federal and state employers accounting for most of the jobs in our region. Looking at ways that we can grow our export economy and increase trade with Mexico is a priority for Las Cruces and Doña Ana County. That will take targeted investment in roads, infrastructure, airports and transparency and outreach from the state’s Economic Development Department. Reforming the state’s film incentive program to help decentralize film production is also of great interest, as Las Cruces would like a larger slice of the pie when it comes to film production.
We also want to ensure that Las Cruces is getting its existing share of gross receipts taxes. That’s why Las Cruces last year joined other cities to file a lawsuit against the state for mishandling the collection and distribution of tax revenue. The state can’t thrive if our municipalities don’t get their fair share, and we expect a quick and fair resolution to any unauthorized tax revenue adjustments made during the Martinez administration.
With oil prices tanking, now is the time to also get serious about environmental regulation that’s good for the future of our climate and economy. That means that promises made about methane capture, increasing state royalty rates and investing in renewable energy infrastructure such as storage and transmission will require concrete action and a plan in year one.
By that same token, coming up with a strategic vision and creating an office of outdoor recreation to market the state’s public lands and natural resources so that we can profit from our vast system of public lands and landscapes will be key in the upcoming Legislature.
A “clean industry,” outdoor recreation has the potential to build on New Mexico’s unique outdoor assets, but only if we focus on small business development in communities adjacent to public lands such as Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument outside Las Cruces. We should also approve the Outdoor Equity Fund proposed by Rep. Angelica Rubio, D-Las Cruces.
In the spirit of governing for the times and pushing through the political sludge that has hampered New Mexico from taking a serious and objective look at creating a new revenue source, the legalization of recreational marijuana should be an effort taken seriously and given adequate time and attention to develop sound policy that aligns New Mexico with the majority of Western states.
Lastly, all options should be on the table for finally funding an adequate early childhood development plan in New Mexico, and that should include looking at the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund.
Gabe Vasquez is the Las Cruces city councilor representing District 3.