Consistently ranking in the bottom 10 of states is not the fault of New Mexico’s culture. But we have become accustomed to it — so much so that our elected officials have convinced us that the table scraps we fight over are precious.

I believe New Mexico deserves to rank among the top 10 of states. Our elected officials should focus on taking us there.

Why is New Mexico’s rank among states important? Because our elected officials can’t skew our national performance by manipulating statistics the way they do here. Albuquerque’s government has altered its crime categories to make it difficult to compare current crime rates with the past or with other cities. New Mexico’s governors have changed education standards for the same reason. But they cannot skew the national statistics: Our state ranks at the bottom for crime and education.

Our elected officials are not focused on what will move New Mexico to the top. Gov. Susana Martinez took pride in finishing her term with a budget surplus. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is focused on supporting unions. But once again, the national judges are not fooled: New Mexico ranks at the bottom for both infrastructure and employment.

Our elected officials want to expand their failed strategies. New Mexicans who enjoy nearly free health care have the lowest life expectancy. Yet our leaders want to expand free health care, to lower life expectancy for more people. New Mexico’s tax laws force hardworking taxpayers to subsidize businesses that move here. Meanwhile, our tax laws do nothing to support local entrepreneurs whose businesses not only add jobs but grow wealth.

New Mexico’s drive to the top starts in 2021, and it starts with government transparency. All New Mexicans should receive a quarterly status report covering education, crime and public safety, tax revenues and tax exemptions, government spending, infrastructure, the environment, and our citizens’ physical and financial health. Each category should include objective comparable statistics with our national ranking and county rankings within the state.

The challenges that keep us on the bottom are all solvable. It is up to us, New Mexico’s citizens, to demand that our elected officials focus on the categories that will lift us all up.

Mick Rich is the host of To the Point with Mick Rich on Albuquerque Comcast Channel 26.

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