New Mexico First Blog

New Mexico First advocates stronger higher education and workforce development systems

New Mexico First’s legislative platform comes from consensus‐driven town hall deliberations. The two‐day statewide town halls are typically comprised of 200 or more people representing urban, rural and tribal communities. Participants include students, parents, educators, nonprofit and business professionals, and government officials. New Mexico First is pleased to advance high priority legislation that is based on the 2018 higher ed town hall recommendations and the 2016 economy town hall recommendations. Additionally, New Mexico First supports legislation that is based on the Ag Plan. The plan was developed as the result of the Resilience in New Mexico Agriculture project that began in 2016 to address unprecedented challenges to the health of the industry.


HB 127/SB 81: College affordability act changes (Stabilize and expand the college affordability fund): In New Mexico, tuition rates continue to rise. No matter what careers New Mexico students want to pursue, rising education costs can make college seem out of reach, especially for low‐income students. To help more students pay for schooling, the New Mexico Legislature established the College Affordability Fund in 2005. It was intended to provide support, up to $1,000 per semester, for students of any age who lack other financial resources and do not meet the requirements of the Lottery Scholarship. The program serves 3,000‐5,000 people per year. However, without intervention, FY18 will be the last year students may apply for these dollars. Read more and track legislation

HB 253: Higher education and workforce career pathways (SUNPATH: Workforce career pathway program): The proposal would fund a sustainability pilot project at eight NM community colleges for the next four years that currently offer the SUNPATH higher education and workforce career pathways program. Funding would go to Santa Fe Community College to administer and manage the statewide program just as it has under the U.S. Department of Labor grant. The program would continue to leverage current Department of Workforce Solutions and matching institutional funds. It would require measurement of program and student outcomes and provide the option to expand into other in-demand industries (energy, IT, K-12 teacher training) Read more and track legislation

HB 155/SB 113: Local economic development taxes (LEDA LOGRT local economic development tax option): Local economic development in the state has been chronically underfunded. In the 1990s, the New Mexico Legislature took the important first step of creating the Local Economic Development Act. LEDA enables state and local governments to offer money, land, buildings and infrastructure to qualifying entities for eligible economic development projects. It also allows municipalities and counties to ask for voter approval to impose an infrastructure gross receipts tax (GRT) from which the revenue may be used for economic development purposes. Read more and track legislation 

HB 315: New Mexico agriculture workforce development program act: A resilient agriculture sector in New Mexico relies on creating and retaining a well-trained and highly skilled agricultural workforce. Currently, our state’s agriculture industry lacks enough labor pool. Young people are struggling to break into agriculture, and most producers are nearing retirement. Currently, there are not enough young, trained growers to keep the industry strong. Agricultural value- added and food-related businesses have also reported serious needs for well-trained employees. Preparing the next generation of the agricultural workforce for long-term success is an issue New Mexico must address now. Read more and track legislation 

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