New Mexico First Blog

Ethics, Collaboration and Healthy Elections

This week and the weeks before, many of you went to the polls and voted.  ..

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Lujan Grisham and Pearce addressed citizen questions during governor debate

KOB-TV and New Mexico First convened a series of nonpartisan citizen forums in Española, Roswell and Albuquerque to produce questions for the gubernatorial debate on October 16. The candidates came together for a televised debate to answer those questions on various topics important to New Mexicans.  Candidates addressed questions about education, water, crime, behavioral health, immigration, infrastructure safety, marijuana legalization and economic development. ..

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Calling for Community Feedback on Free Roaming Horses of Placitas

In 2014, Sandoval County commissioned a task force administered by New Mexico First to gather solutions for the humane treatment of free-roaming horses in Placitas. The effort included sustainability of the environment as well as potential actions for residents, neighborhoods, and government agencies.  ..

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New State Water Plan open for public comment

Important announcement: the draft 2018 State Water Plan has been released by the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) and the Office of the State Engineer (OSE) for public comment. Although New Mexico First is not the author of this document, we highly encourage people who care about New Mexico’s water future to review the plan and submit comments. The draft plan has three parts – a policy section, a technical report and a legal landmarks summary. The comment period is open until August 10. Both the DRAFT State Water Plan and Comment Form  are available online.

In the 2014 New Mexico First Town Hall on water, participants advocated to strengthen and continue the state water planning process. Accordingly, New Mexico First has supported these latest water planning efforts by organizing a State Water Planning Town Hall in December 2017. This town hall provided the ISC with public input before the draft plan was developed. Given the importance of this work to our state, we sincerely hope you will your offer comments on this new plan.


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How to strengthen journalism in NM, final report released

New Mexicans need accurate sources of information they can rely on to make decisions for their families and businesses, engage in work to improve their communities, and take part in the democratic process. Read the final outcomes report to learn about the concrete ways we can advance journalism throughout the state from today’s journalists and the next generation of reporters.  ..

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Statewide town hall: education after high school ‘urgently needed’ to turn around state’s poverty trend

New Mexicans say higher education, workforce development reforms necessary to stem ‘brain drain,’ lift families out of poverty and improve healthcare outcomes  ..

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Higher education town hall: graduates must be career-ready

Nearly 200 citizens from all state regions say reforms urgently needed to stem ‘brain drain,’ lift families out of poverty and improve healthcare outcome!

Albuquerque, N.M. – New Mexicans attending a statewide town hall on higher education this week delivered a dozen reform proposals for a system they said is not adequately preparing students for careers in the state.

Public policy organization New Mexico First convened its regular town hall, the organization’s 42nd, which invites residents from all over the state to converge on a chosen topic, discuss solutions and agree by consensus on a slate of reforms that New Mexico First then implements through legislation and other means. Some past town halls have discussed healthcare, economic vitality and water.

This week’s town hall, entitled “Strengthening Higher Education and Tomorrow’s Workforce,” hosted nearly 200 New Mexicans on Tuesday and Wednesday in Albuquerque to discuss the state’s higher education and workforce development systems.

“Education changes lives, it changes families and it changes our future,” Heather Balas, president and executive director of New Mexico First, said. “New Mexicans know the impact of education and the urgency with which we need to make reforms, as evidenced by the hundreds of citizens in attendance who came from two-thirds of the state’s counties and representing rural, tribal and urban areas.”

Balas said higher education and workforce development are “inextricably connected” to the state’s high rate of poverty, years-long high unemployment rate and the outmigration of working-age adults, especially graduates of New Mexico colleges and universities.

“More can be done to align degrees and certificates with the abundance of job vacancies in the state,” Balas said. “A critical sector with an ongoing shortage of workers is healthcare, which limits residents’ access to health services. We had a group of participants focus specifically on how to fill the healthcare workforce pipeline with qualified workers.”

Bringing down barriers was a common theme that emerged from the half-dozen discussion groups, with each group focusing on a different topic. Collectively, groups said the state’s higher education system will benefit from greater collaboration between community colleges and universities, and making post-high school education more accessible will improve completion and career outcomes.

“Many of the state’s higher education institutions are written into our constitution, so they cannot be eliminated, and it was recently concluded by a task force that doing so would not help much,” Del Archuleta, one of two co-chairs heading up efforts to implement the town hall’s recommendations. “With only so much money to be shared by our universities and colleges, what we can do is find ways for them to collaborate so that New Mexico has a more cohesive educational system.”

Each of the six discussion groups was tasked with crafting a vision statement at the beginning of the town hall. For example, the discussion group whose topic was titled “Student Success: High school preparedness and community college” envision that “[b]y 2028 New Mexico will lead the nation in high school and post-secondary enrollment and graduation rates. K-12 and post-secondary improvements, incorporating experiential and relevant learning has resulted in an increase in college and career readiness and living wages.”

Groups were then directed to propose two goals, each with three to five strategies on how to attain the goal. Goals and accompanying strategies had to receive a vote by the full town hall of 85 percent to move forward as a consensus-based recommendation.

Randy Grissom, a former Santa Fe Community College president and Archuleta’s implementation co-chair, said that detailed action plans of the recommendations will be determined in the coming months as the implementation committee and sub-committees convene.

“Our job, after the town hall, is to work with the committee to winnow down that list to a small set for which we can advocate to the Legislature,” Grissom said. “Implementing the full body of work created by the town hall will require even more New Mexicans’ rallying for these changes, and we will work with community leaders, educators, the media and others to get it accomplished. New Mexico’s future depends on it.”

The complete report on the town hall will be released later this month on the nonprofit’s website, Goals outlined by the town hall fall into three categories: student success in high school preparation, community colleges and universities; higher education institution governance and funding; and workforce alignment and integration, particularly in the energy and healthcare industries. Specific examples are:


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Higher Education, Workforce Town Hall to be Live-streamed

Don’t miss the opening segment of New Mexico First’s town hall on higher education and tomorrow’s workforce. Thanks to a partnership with KNME, New Mexico First will live-stream the program through Tuesday morning, beginning at 9 a.m. Visit While you’re on our Facebook page, enhance your experience by adjusting the Facebook page settings under Follow/Following to "See First" and "All On" for notifications. Tuesday morning’s program includes the following. ..

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2018 Legislative Session Policy Victories

Now that the 2018 Legislative Session has concluded and the Governor has met her signing deadline, New Mexico First is pleased to announce that your voice for smart, bipartisan policy played an influential role in this year’s session. Our public policy organization promotes recommendations developed by citizens during our town halls and forums. We are delighted to report that the Legislature agreed with multiple bills and memorials during its 30-day legislative session, which ended Feb. 15, and the governor signed most of those bills by the March 7 deadline.


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Registration Opens for The Upcoming Town Hall on Strengthening Higher Education and Tomorrow’s Workforce!

Calling on all Community members, business leaders, family and labor advocates, educators, tribal representatives, government professionals, elected officials and students to register for the upcoming town hall, Strengthening Higher Education and Tomorrow’s Workforce.  ..

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