Transcript of Gov. Susana Martinez's State of the State address | KOB 4
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Transcript of Gov. Susana Martinez's State of the State address

Transcript of Gov. Susana Martinez's State of the State address

KOB.com Web Staff
January 16, 2018 02:49 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. -- Gov. Susana Martinez's office provided this transcript of her State of the State address to the state Legislature on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018:

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Senate President Pro Tempore; House Speaker; Democratic and Republican leaders; esteemed members of the New Mexico Legislature; honorable members of the Judiciary; former New Mexico governors; tribal governors; distinguished guests; the State’s First Gentleman, my husband, Chuck Franco; my beautiful sister, Lettie; my stepson Carlo, his wife Tara, and the State’s precious first granddaughter Catalina, and my fellow New Mexicans.

I am honored to join you for the State of the State Address and to open this legislative session.

Last year, we met together under very different, and difficult, circumstances. The steepest crash in global oil and gas prices in state history devastated our budget. Across the last two fiscal years, we faced a $600 million shortfall and the prospect of emptying the state’s entire savings account.  The situation was bleak.

Of course, facing economic and fiscal adversity is not new to us.   

When I took office, New Mexico faced a massive budget deficit.  Years of irresponsible spending during prosperous times made managing through the hard times that much harder.

Then, as responsible budgeting gave way to political dysfunction in Washington, the federal government enacted across-the-board spending cuts, slashed defense spending, in particular. Thousands of federal government jobs were lost, and private local companies that worked with the federal government were forced to scale back or close. 

They even shut down the federal government, and that hit us hard. Then the bottom fell out of the energy markets. We lost 10,000 oil and gas jobs, and state tax revenue plummeted. 

A steady drumbeat of economic adversity, much of it out of our control, but all of it our responsibility to handle. 

Adversity can breed apathy, or spur growth, reform, and innovation.  

In New Mexico, in the midst of these headwinds, we chose the right path. 

We didn’t lean on the flimsy crutch of the federal government. We set a new course and chose to diversify our economy instead. 

And despite the insistence of some, we didn’t take short-sighted paths in challenging times that would have cost us jobs and economic growth in the future.

As a result, we find ourselves in a much different position today than we were just one year ago.

Just a few weeks ago, we were projecting a $200 million budget surplus. Now, it has already grown to over $330 million. Maybe we should give a big chunk of that back to the taxpayers.

New Mexico is ranked 7th nationally in economic growth. Wages are up, per capita income is up, and as people look for work again and find jobs, our unemployment rate is declining.

It was not a luxury afforded to me upon entering office, so I am particularly proud to say that whoever succeeds me will inherit a strong savings account with at least 10 percent of our state revenue in reserves, a first-of-its-kind rainy day fund to guard against future downturns in the economy, and strong economic growth that is broader and more diversified than it’s been in decades.

As we emerge from the fiscal and economic adversity we have faced, I am proud to say that the state of our state is strong – and getting stronger. Our people are resilient, kind, and courageous. As Governor, I’ve seen their goodness and toughness each day. And, though we are making important progress, much more needs to be done to make New Mexico the best place to be a kid and raise a family. 

This session, we must work together to keep our economy moving, pass a responsible budget, make New Mexico a safer place for families and the worst place in America to be a criminal, and finally adopt the reforms necessary to ensure every child receives the quality education they deserve.

From an economic standpoint, we decided seven years ago to get off the sidelines and start fighting for a better future.

Be a partner – not an impediment to small businesses.

Regulate when we needed to, not simply because we had the power to.

And we set in motion a competitive, pro-growth plan that we are committed to seeing through. 

The plan has six key areas:

Number one – reform the tax code and reduce the cost of doing business in our state. Make it easier to create jobs.

In the past seven years, we’ve cut taxes 37 times, rolled back job-killing regulations, and reduced the business tax rate by 26 percent. And these have all been bipartisan successes.

But we’re not done. The big one is out there, we’ve studied it, we’ve debated it. Let’s finally tackle comprehensive tax reform this session.

Number two – better compete with other states, create and enhance the tools we need to attract new jobs and encourage local businesses to expand.

Our new closing fund has already helped create thousands of jobs – in rural and urban areas alike, attracted world-class companies like Safelite, Keter Plastic, and Canon. And every day, for businesses that want to grow, we’re helping them hire and train new workers, creating thousands of jobs. This has been another bipartisan success, and now let's make the job training incentive program a permanent part of the state budget.

Number three – support small businesses as they grow, and invest in new start-ups so that New Mexico technology becomes New Mexico careers.

We built a stronger in-state preference so that New Mexico companies can better compete for state contracts. And last year, we launched a $40 million catalyst fund to help make our state a high-tech leader. We’ve helped cutting-edge companies establish and grow, like RiskSense, Sigma Labs, TriLumina, Armonica, and Bayotech.

Number four – target other sectors of our economy, like our tourism industry, where we have a competitive advantage over other states.

We’ve long been the most beautiful state in the country; our history, our culture, and the diversity of our landscapes and people are simply unmatched. But in New Mexico True, we now have the most successful state marketing brand in America. And communities across New Mexico are feeling the positive impact of record-shattering visitations five years in a row. So let’s double down on what’s working – and agree together to expand the reach of New Mexico True.

In health care, we have an urgent need to ensure that nurses certified in other states can continue to work in New Mexico. We’ve dramatically expanded our health care workforce and made New Mexico a great state to be a nurse. If a nurse from another state wants to come here, that’s good for New Mexico. Many already have. But all those jobs could disappear if we don’t cut the red tape and pass the interstate nursing compact bill immediately.

Number five – change how we spend infrastructure dollars, invest more in large-scale projects that create jobs in the short-run and lay a long-term foundation for economic growth. We’ve had success with this – the Paseo del Norte extension, big water projects throughout the state.

And we’ve made solid strides in reforming how we spend those dollars when they’re appropriated.

In 2010, less than 10 percent of road projects were finished on time or on budget. That’s changed. Last year, each and every state highway project was delivered on time and on budget.

Now, I ask the Legislature to join in this effort. No more doling out state capital funds on pork projects. Instead, let’s spend those funds on rebuilding the foundation of our economy.

And number six – work to build infrastructure along the border.

I’m talking about working with our partners in Mexico to build a 21st Century manufacturing, logistics, and transportation hub along our southern border.

We’re building a first-of-its-kind binational campus, becoming a key corridor for trade. FedEx just opened a distribution headquarters in the region. Empty business parks are now full, and exports have increased by almost $1 billion since 2012.

This six-part plan is an aggressive strategy to grow and diversify our economy. And it’s working. We’re seeing broad-based job growth, and since 2011, we've added over 50,000 New Mexico jobs.

Even during the oil and gas crash, when we were losing thousands of energy jobs, our private sector was still creating more jobs than we lost.

And unlike past recoveries, our growth now is not dependent solely on oil and gas. In past recoveries, oil and gas has accounted for up to 80 percent of our economic growth. Now, at a time when oil and gas production is at record levels, it has accounted for 40 percent of our economic growth. That is because we are seeing growth across the board.

And in a major victory for our state, we were thrilled to welcome social-media giant Facebook to New Mexico!

I remember traveling to Facebook headquarters in August of 2015. At the time, we weren’t even on their radar. But I was able to sit down with them and show them all we had accomplished together – all the reforms we had passed – and they saw New Mexico really is open for business. We competed hard, and we won.

And even after they selected us for their data center project, our work didn’t stop. We showed them what New Mexico hospitality looks like, they fell in love with our people and our state, and we earned another expansion of their facility – to more than triple its original size!

Facebook is investing more than $1 billion in New Mexico; the equivalent of 10 years’ worth of private construction in Albuquerque. Facebook will have 1,000 construction workers on site every day from now until 2023. Los Lunas gross receipts tax collections are already up 72 percent. And, the massive facility will be powered by New Mexico renewable energy. 

A major reason this happened is because we had the courage in 2013 to act to work together across party lines on historic tax reform to make New Mexico more business friendly.

What an exciting project for New Mexico workers, and what an incredible achievement for our state! 

Make no mistake – we’re proud of our national labs, our military bases, and our energy sector.  They make extraordinary contributions to our economy, as well as our nation’s security and energy independence.

But, we must realize that economic diversification is our state’s path out of poverty. And though it won’t happen overnight, there is no question that our trajectory has changed, and we are building a broader private sector than ever before. 

To realize our full potential, our motto can no longer be “in Washington we trust.”

And to see sustained growth – to build on our momentum to earn the confidence of job creators – we need to continue to reform our tax code, fund the tools we need to compete, and reject job-killing tax increases at every turn; like we did last year, and the previous year, and the year before that.

Over the long haul, our economy won’t succeed and our children won’t have the opportunities we want them to have if we fail to develop a strong workforce, and if New Mexico isn’t a safe place to live.  

Education and crime: one creates opportunities, the other stifles them. One helps children realize their dreams and the other can snuff them out. 

Let’s talk about crime first. 

And let me start by talking about this badge.

We are joined today by State Police Officer Dwayne Simpson.

During an August traffic stop, Officer Simpson encountered William Wilson, a criminal who had been in and out of prison 16 times for various offenses: aggravated burglary, committing a crime with a firearm, resisting arrest, parole violations, and drug charges. Most recently, he was charged with 17 felonies, including aggravated burglary and firearm possession – and a judge let him bond out with very little accountability.

This criminal shot Officer Simpson. This badge stopped the bullet and this New Mexico State Police officer is a hero who nearly lost his life protecting us. 

An officer’s badge – the shield—is the symbol of his commitment and willingness to lay down his life for us. It is not just a piece of metal. To every officer, it represents their bond with the people they serve.

Officer Simpson – thank you for your bravery. For the first time, and on behalf of all New Mexicans, I’d like to return your badge to you. Thank you.

We have great police officers in New Mexico. The very few who abuse their power need to be held accountable. But we should not paint all of our officers with a broad brush. That’s not fair, and that’s not right. And let me be very clear on this – I, for one, will never apologize for our law enforcement officers doing their jobs. 

To the police officers, I know you are tired of arresting the same people over and over for serious crimes – frustrated that you put your life on the line to put handcuffs on a criminal’s wrists, only to see them walk free. And you worry that your next interaction with that person could result in tragedy.

To every crime victim in New Mexico, I hear you, too. Year after year, I’ve heard you, and others in this building hear you as well. 

You’re tired of seeing those who hurt your loved ones, or broke into your home, walk out of court with a swagger and a smile, back into your neighborhoods.

I learned a long time ago as a prosecutor – and it’s just plain common sense – that those who commit crimes will go where the laws are weak and punishments are light. And in New Mexico, they have found their easy mark. In Albuquerque, for example, police have identified 189 dangerous repeat offenders who account for over 1,000 felony arrests in just the past three years – how is that even possible?

Certain justice system officials have been so intent on emptying jails, shuffling cases along, and dismantling the bail system that they’ve forgotten their primary job is to keep New Mexicans safe!

And just over a year ago, New Mexicans voted to give judges power they’ve never had before – to hold dangerous defendants – including repeat offenders – in jail prior to their trial. 

Sounds good, right? But the people’s definition of a serious offender is apparently very different from the one judges have been using. Not only are few defendants being detained by judges, the judiciary has actually used the constitutional amendment voters passed to require the release of most defendants back into our communities prior to trial.

It’s a bait-and-switch, and on behalf of every police officer, every crime victim, and every New Mexican who wants a tougher justice system, we must work together this session to put a stop to catch-and-release.

New Mexico can no longer be an island of leniency in a sea of tough-on-crime states. For seven years, I’ve pushed for common sense legislation to stop crime. Just one year ago, as 21 cars were being stolen every day in Albuquerque, I was criticized for having an “all crime, all the time” agenda. 

“All crime, all the time”?  For too many of our residents, that’s exactly what they’ve been living with, and it’s time for that to end!

We’ve proposed 200 crime bills, and yet, it’s proven easier to crack down on poachers than it has been to crack down on child predators. I’m encouraged to hear there’s bipartisan interest in tackling our crime problem, and I will work with anyone who honestly wants to make our state safer.

This session, let’s increase penalties for those who use a gun while committing a crime.

Crack down on those who repeatedly drive drunk.

Require stiffer punishment for those who commit crimes while other charges are pending against them.

Pass child protection legislation that would increase penalties on those who prey on, abuse, and kill the most precious and innocent among us. 

We also need a three-strikes law with real teeth, and those who kill police officers, correctional officers, or children should absolutely face the death penalty.

To confront our officer shortage statewide, we need to raise police officer salaries and pass legislation that allows retired officers to return to work in law enforcement – right here in New Mexico. 

It’s downright silly that we allow relatively young, retired officers to move to Arizona, Colorado, Texas, and elsewhere – when they could have a solid, second career on our police forces, protecting our neighborhoods.

And, we will finally give police and prosecutors the staff, tools, and data capabilities necessary to cripple crime networks and bring down crime rates. 

We’ve seen what happens when we give law enforcement new tools to better connect crimes to criminals. 

The 2011 expansion of Katie’s Law has resulted in DNA matches from current felony suspects to nearly 1,000 unsolved criminal cases in New Mexico – including homicides, rapes, and burglaries. It has helped convict over 415 offenders and prevent thousands of crimes.  

I want to share with you the story of this courageous woman, Charlene. In 1999, Charlene’s life changed forever when she was sexually assaulted; for years, the case was unsolved. But in 2013, our Katie’s Law enhancement led to the capture and conviction of her rapist. These are the real results of our work! Had we not expanded this critical law enforcement tool, he may have never faced justice – and how many others would have been victims? Charlene has overcome the adversity she’s faced. She is a survivor who is now educating and inspiring others through writing and public speaking. Charlene, you are an inspiration to me, and you are a hero to all of us.

There are, of course, a number of ways to intervene in the fight against crime.

We’re providing more behavioral health services in New Mexico than at any point in state history.

We’re restricting the use and distribution of narcotic medications, confronting truancy in our high schools, and through our ENDWI efforts, we’ve driven alcohol-related fatalities on our highways to historic lows.

These are all important efforts. 

But the question remains: will we make New Mexico a very risky place for criminals to commit crimes? Or will we continue to develop a reputation as a state where crime is worth the gamble, where police departments are short-staffed, serious offenders are released from jail prior to trial, and punishments are weak?

Crime is costly. It inhibits economic growth, and I’ve seen first-hand how it destroys the lives of victims, their families, witnesses, and perpetrators alike.  

We are not helpless. This does not have to be the norm. And those who say the answer is too complicated have nothing but a pocket full of excuses placed there by soft-on-crime special interests. 

Let's stop the hand-wringing and take back our streets!

We care about and passionately debate these issues because, ultimately, we care about the future of New Mexico’s children. 

That is why we are here. We want the next generation to have and seize opportunities greater than the ones we were afforded.  

But for that to happen, we must believe that every child’s well-being matters. Every child is capable of learning, and regardless of race, background, or upbringing, every child can succeed. 

That must be our standard.

I have heard impoverished kids demeaned, that they can’t learn because they only know how to street fight. But they’ve proven doubters wrong time and time again.

For seven years, I’ve called for education reform. 

Why? Because historically our measure of success has not been whether a child is learning, and for too long, we’ve settled for mediocrity or worse.

We’ve allowed children to be trapped in failing schools and passed along kids who can’t read – replacing opportunities with obstacles. 

I’ve called for more dollars in the classroom; for parents to receive more information about school performance; for relentless intervention when schools or students are struggling; and for rewards and recognition when we see success.

And for seven years, unions and other defenders of the failed status quo have fought against reform, resigned to a belief that low achievement may simply be the best we can produce.

The cynicism is breathtaking. And despite the resistance, we have made important progress. Nearly 8,000 more students are reading on grade level. 32,000 more kids—more than ever before—are attending an “A” or “B” school. And those in struggling schools are getting additional attention.

Teachers are being recognized for their outstanding achievements and making improvements.

Our graduation rate remains at an all-time high of 71 percent, and because we've raised standards and our students are meeting them, the number of high school graduates needing remediation in college has fallen 16 percent.

Are we satisfied? Of course not. Our expectations are far higher. But the progress is real, and education is more student-centered than ever before.

And, a new achievement gap is developing. Not between rich kids and poor kids or white students and students of color. We’re actually beginning to close those gaps. But, it’s a new kind of achievement gap – between students who are in school districts that are embracing reform and those who are not.

In Farmington, for example, our teacher and principal mentoring programs have turned things around. Reading proficiency is up 12 points in two years, and they now have zero “F” schools.

In Gadsden, where reform was embraced from the start, nearly 60 percent of their schools are “A” or “B” schools, they have no “F” schools, and over several years, students have seen large gains in both reading and math. 

The majority of the kids who are making these great accomplishments in Gadsden speak English as a second language… they all receive free or reduced lunch. They now know they can compete with any kid, anywhere in America!

Unfortunately, where reform has been resisted, student achievement has either flat-lined or continued to fall. The number of “F” schools, for example, has TRIPLED in Albuquerque – to nearly 1 in 3 schools – and the Albuquerque Public Schools graduation rate is nearly nine percentage points lower than the statewide average. 

This session, we need to fund reforms that are getting results. That means expanding our teacher and principal mentoring programs, anti-truancy efforts, and early reading interventions. 

We have increased starting teacher salaries almost 15 percent since 2012, and now, we should give all teachers a two-percent raise and, for those who earn an exemplary rating, we should step up and give them a $5,000 bonus.

We need to allow chemists, biologists, engineers, and others to be trained and certified to enter our high schools to teach math and science - to help address our teacher shortage in STEM subjects.

Let’s update our schools with 21st century technology, extend broadband coverage, and it’s time we set aside money to make our schools as secure as parents expect them to be. I'm asking the Legislature to set aside at least $25 million over the next several years for security improvements at schools across our state.

And, we need to place a firm cap on the portion of a school district’s budget that can be used to pay administrative expenses because our education dollars belong in the classroom.

And realize that if you are being lobbied against this, every dollar being spent to pay that school lobbyist is a dollar not being spent buying new textbooks, or computers for our kids. And that is just wrong.

Everywhere I go, parents are shocked to learn that 21,000 New Mexico students, between 1st and 3rd grade, were passed onto the next grade last year without being able to read on grade level. Many of these students will sadly face frustration and discouragement year after year. But even more concerning is that, in most districts, parents aren’t even being informed of their child’s low reading proficiency; not even presented with the option of having their son or daughter repeat the grade in order to catch up. 

The Reading Success Act will change this, creating a framework for parents and teachers to work together on interventions for children who have fallen behind on reading in early grades. 

These students need us to be more proactive, their parents need more information, and we need to give them new ways – and perhaps more time. In the summer, or during the next school year – to fully learn how to read. 

In addition, it’s critical that we continue giving parents options when their child is trapped in a failing school. 

By now, it’s easy to spot the schools that chose to improve. In the face of low performance, they do things differently and their students respond. We celebrate their courage to take on the challenge.  

But for schools that receive “F” grades year after year, there are no more excuses. the stakes are too high and students are now able to go elsewhere to learn.                                                                                                       

We now have a system in place that didn’t exist before. We can identify chronically failing schools, force corrective action, and finally say enough. It’s not okay to keep sending children to schools where they are not learning.

We all know how important parental involvement is when it comes to education. The way to get more parents involved is to empower them. And that’s what we’ve done.

Ajah Holt, from Los Lunas, is with us today. She’s a parent who called the Public Education Department looking for help. Her son was in a failing school and was not learning. We helped her through the process of moving her son to a higher-performing school – which happened on October 2nd – and Ajah says she saw an immediate change in her son’s attitude and an improvement in his academic achievement. She believes the trajectory of his life has changed.

That's how important these decisions are.

Education empowers our kids, and a lack of education can be limiting to their future. Ajah, thank you for being here, for taking ownership of your son’s education, and for sharing your story with us. 

If we want to really make New Mexico the best place to be a kid, we have to change our mindset. No single government program or agency, or non-profit, can dramatically improve child well-being alone. What it takes is the realization that all of us, pulling together, can do little things that make a big difference. 

We launched the PullTogether initiative almost two years ago to capitalize on the amazing hearts and compassion of our people.

Across our state, we have incredible people – generous and caring – who are doing heroic work to improve child well-being, and help families overcome poverty.

A police officer adopting the child of a heroin addict, and seemingly smaller things like Boy Scouts helping to build outdoor play areas for kids in need. 

Through CYFD, we’ve enrolled 5,000 more kids in child care programs.

We’ve added over 100 additional caseworkers to investigate child abuse and intervene with high-risk families.

And, we’re providing our students breakfast during the school day, and over 2.6 million meals to mostly low-income children during the summer. 

We have 100,000 users on PullTogether.org – people who are being connected to resources or reaching out to help others, and as intended, we’re seeing greater demand for important services. 

That’s why my budget calls for a $25 million increase in child care services and an additional $8 million to expand pre-K programs throughout New Mexico. On my watch, we’ve already tripled the number of children who receive a pre-K education, and this new funding will allow us to serve nearly 2,000 more kids.

PullTogether embraces and relies on our greatest strength – our people – because we have the power in each of us to improve the lives of ou

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